Today, Vice President Mike Pence led a discussion with the chief executives of approximately 50 States, territories, and the city of Washington, DC, and the White House Coronavirus Task Force to discuss local, State, and Federal COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.
Vice President Pence began the conversation by highlighting his recent visit to Dallas, Texas, where he and Dr. Deborah Birx met with Governor Greg Abbott, State health and emergency officials, and healthcare system executives, and received a ground report on recent cases. During the ground report, Texas officials stressed that existing hospital capacity was higher than reported and emphasized their ability to “flex” capacity, if needed. The meeting reinforced the locally-executed, State-managed, and Federally-supported response effort, and how lessons learned from March, April, and May, are being applied now. Vice President Pence informed the governors that he intended to travel to Arizona and Florida this week with the goal of receiving similar updates from those governors.
Additionally, Vice President Pence discussed best practices with our Nation’s governors on limiting the COVID-19 spread while keeping America open, including encouraging Americans to adhere to state and local guidelines and to wear face coverings when social distancing cannot be maintained. They also discussed efforts to expand testing, support long-term care residents, and maintain necessary healthcare capacity.
The Vice President also thanked our Nation’s governors for their support for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and highlighted the exciting July 1, 2020, implementation milestone for America’s farmers, manufacturers, workers, and small businesses.
Dr. Birx, who joined the call in New Mexico with Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, discussed testing and trends, including enabling local decision-making for the subset of counties and cities experiencing increasing cases, implementing tailored adjustments to reopening plans based on data, ensuring adequate hospital surge capacity, protecting the most vulnerable especially nursing home residents, deploying increased testing and resources to hot spots, and encouraging citizens follow social distancing guidelines. Dr. Anthony Fauci stressed to governors that public health measures should not be an all or nothing approach, and that those measures should not get in the way of the freedoms Americans enjoy.
Secretary Alex Azar urged governors to encourage previous COVID-19 patients to donate convalescent plasma. Secretary Azar also highlighted today’s announcement that HHS secured large supplies of the therapeutic, remdesivir, through an agreement with Gilead Sciences, and discussed the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) support for State and local governments. HHS Admiral Brett Giroir provided an update on community-based testing and testing support. Rear Admiral John Polowczyk provided a logistics update on the expansion of domestic production of key resources (including N95s), restocking the National Stockpile and coordinating with States on their warehousing efforts, delivering PPE to nursing homes, building ventilators on-hand in the National Stockpile to over 50,000 by the end of next week. Notably, Admiral Polowczyk updated the group on States’ efforts to build their own stockpiles, reporting that 60-70% of States have a 30-60 day supply of PPE.
Several governors discussed leading practices to control the spread of COVID-19.
Participants from the White House Coronavirus Task Force:
- The Vice President
- Ambassador Deborah Birx, M.D., White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator
- Secretary Alex Azar, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS)
- Larry Kudlow, Assistant to the President & Director, National Economic Council (NEC)
- Admiral Brett Giroir, M.D. Assistant Secretary for Health, (HHS)
- Dr. Tony Fauci, M.D., Director, National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases, (HHS)
- Rear Admiral John Polowczyk, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Department of Defense (DOD)
- Eric Heighberger, Chief of Staff, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Since January 2020, the Trump Administration has led over 320 briefings – including 27 governors’ briefings – with over 147,000 State, local, and Tribal participants.