At the press briefing, Kayleigh McEnany defends the administration’s desire to reopen schools, claiming the science supports reopening.
Press Secretary started today’s press briefing by reaffirming President Trump’s commitment to rolling back regulations. As compared to the “over regulation” under the Obama-Biden administration, Trump imposed seven deregulatory actions for every one new regulation.
In March, Trump rolled back the Obama-era Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards — designed to decrease pollution from transportation — a move McEnany said will make cheap cars more accessible. According to McEnany, these deregulations most benefit low-income Americans and will boost household income by $3,100 annually.
McEnany also celebrated the news of a promising vaccine candidate from Moderna. “The bottom line is that so far we are seeing exactly what you would hope to see in a vaccine,” she said.
The Moderna vaccine expects to reach phase three, the final stage of testing, by late July.
McEnany accuses Governor Hogan of “revisionist history”
On Thursday, Republican Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland published an op-ed in The Washington Post condemning Trump for not helping states with testing. The op-ed starts with a powerful anecdote of Hogan and his wife Yumi watching a plane from South Korea arrive with test kits back in April. By then, Trump, Hogan said, left the states to handle testing on their own.
Hogan wrote, “[Governors] expected something more than constant heckling from the man who was supposed to be our leader.”
In response to the op-ed, McEnany blasted Hogan for praising Trump just a day before he received the test kits from South Korea. Hogan thanked the President for the progress seen in federal and state coordination and praised the country’s testing capabilities, according to McEnany.
She said, “It’s really striking his comments, especially when you compare them to his past comments, this is revisionist history by Governor Hogan.”
On the subject of coronavirus testing, McEnany asserts that the U.S. conducted more tests than any other country in the world — 42 million tests nationwide, with the next highest number being 12 million in India.
The coronavirus task force and Human Health Services are at work to battle the pandemic. According to McEnany, HHS deployed 19 teams across the country to places where there might be an emergence of new cases.
When asked about the long wait times for test results, which could lead people to unknowingly spread the disease, McEnany said there are various different tests used in the country and that some take longer to process than others.
“Ultimately, we can give the states the supplies, but they’ve got to use them in the best way possible to get results as quickly as possible,” said McEnany.
Schools need to reopen: ‘The science is on our side here’
McEnany fielded several questions from reporters on schools potentially reopening in the fall and said she believes it’s “perfectly safe” for children to return as emphasized by “many medical experts.”
“The President is very keen on seeing schools reopen. It’s the only thing that’s fair to America’s children,” said McEnany.
McEnany’s comments follow those of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos who, over the weekend, staunchly advocated for the reopening of schools. In an interview with CNN on Sunday, DeVos said, “I think the go-to needs to be kids in school, in person, in the classroom … Because we know for most kids, that’s the best environment for them.” She repeated the administration’s line that schools not reopening “shouldn’t get the funds.”
DeVos’s comments sparked backlash from people across the political spectrum, with many claiming it is unsafe for children to return. With more school districts deciding to operate online-only, as in the case of Los Angeles and San Diego, the issue of reopening is set to be contentious for weeks to come.
McEnany, quoting Dr. Scott Atlas, Former Stanford Medical Center neurology chief, said, “of course we can do it, everyone else in the Western world, our peer nations are doing it. We are the outlier here.”
Countries that are reopening schools have not seen surges in coronavirus infections, as compared to the U.S., where cases are still on the rise.
Supplementing her point with studies from pediatric hospitals that show the risk of critical illness from COVID-19 is far less for children than that of seasonal flu, McEnany said, “the science is on our side here, and we encourage for localities and states to just simply follow the science open our schools.”
Getting “more data” on coronavirus through HHS
On Tuesday, the Trump administration ordered hospitals to bypass the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and send all coronavirus patient information to a central database in Washington.
McEnany clarified today that this decision ensured Dr. Deborah Birx, Coronavirus Response Coordinator, receives daily data to identify hotspots and take action on therapeutics.
She also elaborated that there are two methods of data collection: one through the CDC system where hospitals voluntarily report their own data and one through the HHS system using a TeleTracker database. According to McEnany, only 81% of hospitals submitted data through the CDC system and the HHS system proved to be more complete.
The data will still be public information, McEnany confirmed. “This is all about getting more data out there, not less data, and ensuring in particular that our doctors get that daily data,” said McEnany.
To end the briefing, McEnany returned to the subject of testing and compared the Trump administration’s response to that of the Obama administration in the face of the H1N1 flu in 2009. McEnany, echoing Trump’s recent comments, said the Obama administration stopped testing entirely for H1N1 — a disease that killed 12,000 Americans, as compared to the coronavirus which has killed over 135,000.
McEnany said, “this response has been extraordinary and historic. We didn’t pause testing, the Obama Biden administration did, and that was a shameful decision.”