tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC July 8, 2020 9:00am-10:00am PDT
operational dress, this blue uniform. so i wear this proudly and i think of that community every single day. everybody pitching in across america to help us all. so in terms of testing, i want to cover three quick topics. first is just where we are numerically. the vice president has already said we are now topping 39 million tests across the country. the states really crushed their goal in june. the state goals was about 12.9 million in june. cdc numbers have finallyized that at about 16.5 million tests for june. so congratulations to almost all of the states who made their goal and exceeded their goal. we're doing very well right now between 6 and 700,000 tests per day. we did top the 700,000 mark last week and we're averaging about 620, 630,000 tests per day. we continue to ship. we are rife with swabs and media. the states tell us what they need. we work with them to set those goals based on their state
plans. fema ships those every week. now that's along with esper, assistant secretary for response at hhs. we announced yesterday, what we talked about a little bit last week and that is federal surge sites. we opened these in three communities. there was a list of communities identified by dr. birx and her team that had certain characteristics of their infection trend but also met certain characteristics of numerical numbers in isolation that surge testing might have an impact over a short period of time. so our goal in those communities is to do at least 5,000 tests per day and those are in baton rouge, jacksonville, and mccowan in texas. again, this is a partnership with the state and local governments to make that happen. they're up and running with
testing in all three sites. baton rouge started yesterday, the other two sites start today. and we also have almost 6,500 appointments already made this morning so that's going very, very well. the last thing i want to talk about is phoenix. and i don't know if we have the slides for this. i get just a little bit concerned when i hear things in the news like we're doing nothing for phoenix and the federal government hasn't been doing anything with phoenix, because that really is not correct and it undermines a lot of the things we're doing. i'm going to show you some slides. i didn't make these slides up. my team -- this was part of the 55-slide deck, 55-slide slide deck just on phoenix to help us understand the income levels, racial and ethnicity backgrounds, where the tests are done, where the resources are. this is how we really work the issues. so first of all, we're in constant contact with governor ducey and his team. his state health officials are outstanding. we not only talk on the calls
but we have frequent calls, and i know dr. redfield does this as well, and ambassador birx does this as well. number two, we provide support according to the state plans. just in the last two months we shipped over 500,000 swabs and media to the state to fulfill their plans. in terms of phoenix, if i can get the first slide back, please. i just want to say, yes, we have lots of support in phoenix. this is the community-based testing locations. i didn't decode this because it's right out of my slide deck. phoenix has three federally-funded retail sites. this is paid on a per capita basis. you come up and get a test. the overall program has tested over a million individuals and they're located specifically in communities of high social vulnerability. we have three there. we also have 13 what we call 3.0 sites, these are retail pharmacies that because of our
regulatory flexibility they can do that without a federal stipend or grant. they do this just through the insurance, medicare and medicaid billing system. those are 16 federal sites we have in phoenix. next slide. i don't know if there's a map to go with that, but under the leadership of secretary azar, we've really surged into fqhcs, federally qualified health centers. this is where you really want testing to happen because these are medical homes for those who are indigent and underserved. we have 28 fqhc sites performing testing just in the phoenix area right now. next slide. we don't have that slide. but let me talk about, we've also identified every single testing machine in phoenix. so there are testing machines to do tens of thousands of tests per day and we're sending at least 100,000, okay, maybe it will come up, maybe it won't, but at least 100,000 assays to the phoenix area every week. so these are all the things
we're doing in the background that happen on a regular basis that we do community by community by community. now, two days ago, umm, i heard that mayor gallego was unhappy because there was no federal support. i heard that on monday morning. i was on the phone with the fema representative in the afternoon. it was clear to me that phoenix was not in tune with all the things that the state were doing. we convened a call last night where we had governor ducey's people on the phone, where we had the mayor's people on the phone, where we had various health officials on the phone. we got everybody together, understood where the gaps are. there's a surge from arizona state. there are surges in state testing sites in phoenix that are up there. this morning governor ducey looked at everything, thought a surge site would be helpful in west phoenix. he requested that and we're contracting that right now. so i just wanted to give you that example, because it really pains me when somebody says the federal government isn't doing anything when we have 41 federal
sites there. we're sending supplies. we're sending tests. and we work with the governor every day. if there is an appropriate request and it's on the list for dr. birx, which it was, we will send a surge site. and that's what we're doing, we're contracting that this afternoon. thank you. >> thank you, admiral giroir. as we said, the focus today is on safely reopening our schools. and as we discussed yesterday at the white house summit, from very early in this process the centers for disease control has been issuing guidance for schools and for childcare services in early march, march 12 to be specific. and when we first published 15 days to slow the spread and encouraged people to engage in schooling from home wherever possible, from that point forward, cdc has published decision trees about how schools can begin to develop reopening
plans, and just last week published new guidance for k-12 schools. next week, as dr. redfield can elaborate, in a few moments, they'll be issuing five new documents that will range from preparing communities to return to school safely to decision making tools for parents and caregivers to create symptom screening considerations as children and teachers return to school. but as we made clear yesterday, we'll make clear again today, we're here to help. and none of the cdc's recommendations are intended to replace state, local rules and guidance, that what we made clear to governors and to state and local health officials is cdc stands ready to work with local officials as they tailor their plan for reopening schools. but we're all committed to getting our kids back in the classroom and getting them back in classroom this fall.
with that, i want the secretary of education to reflect on the efforts she's making here at the department of education. we'll hear from dr. redfield and a few wrap-up comments from the secretary of hhs before we go to questions. madam secretary. >> thank you so much, mr. vice president. thanks for hosting the task force here today. we are so grateful to the president and to you for your leadership on doing what's right for students. yesterday we had a really good and important conversation at the white house with local leaders and great teachers and parents. it was insightful and inspiring. as mrs. pence noted, these past few months parents have worn multiple hats. they really are our unsung heroes. and i might add, as the vice president noted, as are the teachers who were often playing dual roles as parents themselves and continuing to help their students learn. she also said, mrs. pence also
said that as we reopen businesses, restaurants, theaters, in our country, we simply can't leave out our schoo schools, and that is so correct. students can and must continue to learn full-time. i've been inspired by the teachers, schools, and communities that have kept learning going for these past few months and they're getting ready to do it again this fall. a couple of great examples in harlem and surrounding boroughs in new york, success academy moved to distance learning in one week using multiple technology platforms. teachers there insisted on learning new materials right along with their students. the students were still graded. they made sure all the students had the needed tech that they did not maybe have at home initially. miami-dade county, used existing instructional continuity plans
to make a seamless transition to distance learning. they added interventions for students who were struggling already before the pandemic. the international leadership academy in texas started from the mindset that not learning wasn't an option for any student. they delivered multilingual and special education curriculum to all of their students. there were a number of schools and districts across the country that did an awesome job of transitioning this spring. and there were a lot in which i and state school leaders were disappointed in that they didn't figure out how to continue to serve their students. too many of them just gave up. the center for reinventing public education said only 10% across the board provided any kind of real curriculum and instruction program. and as i said, i've talked to all of the state school chiefs at least once, most of them more than once, and they've told me that while many of their
districts in their states have done well through the past several months, a number of them, they were very disappointed in, in doing next to nothing. and then we see as we talk about reopening schools, there are some creating false paradigms for the fall. and here, right in our neighborhood, the d.c. area fairfax county, which is one of the most well-funded, i would call it an elite public school system in america, offered families a so-called choice for this fall, either zero days in school for their students or two days. and their springtime attempt at distance learning was a disaster. but i have to give this as an example because things like this cannot happen again in the fall. it would fail america's students and it would fail taxpayers who pay high taxes for their education. ultimately it's not a matter of
if schools should reopen, it's simply a matter of how. they must fully open. and they must be fully operational. and how that happens is best left to education and community leaders. i really appreciate something that secretary azar reiterated yesterday at the white house. it's the surgeon general's prescription for health care. and i'm going to repeat it again because it bears repeating. first, ask yourself what's your individual circumstance. are you or is someone in your home vulnerable. second, what's going on in your community. is the virus widespread or is it isolated. and third, think about the kind of school activity that you're talking or thinking about how to accommodate and deal with. what needs to be in place for things to be successful. education leaders need to examine real data for their own states and communities and weigh the risks. local leaders in every community
need to ask all these questions and consider all the risks. physical health and safety are factors. so is mental health. so is social-emotional development. and importantly, very importantly, so are lost opportunities for students, particularly the most vulnerable among us, and students with disabilities. the american academy of pediatrics noted, keeping schools closed places children and adolescents at considerable risk of morbidity and in some cases, mortality. the pediatrics guidance concluded that everyone should start with a goal of having students physically present in school. fully open and fully operational means students need a full school year or more. and it's expected it will look different depending on where you are. what's clear is that students and their families need more options. i've talked a long time about the need to rethink education. and to expand education options for all students.
this moment really demands action. and america always was and is and always will be a country of doers. we are confident that with grit and determination and a measure of grace, we can and will do what's right for all the students in our nation. thanks very much. >> good day, i'm andrea mitchell in washington. you've been watching vice president pence and other members of the coronavirus task force at the department of education, saying they're seeing an early indication of the percentage of positive testing flattening in arizona, florida, and texas, recent hotspots, this as president trump is turning a critical public health debate about reopening schools in the fall into a political football as he did over reopening the economy, threatening to withhold funds from states that don't bring children back despite many parents' concerns about covid-19. the president first tweeting
that threat to use federal funds as a lever over governors, saying schools in europe are opening safely, without providing any evidence for that, and publicly clashing with his own cdc over its guidance for opening schools, calling it impractical. we're seeing some changes about to be announced from the cdc in coming days as well. we'll have a lot more on the coronavirus pandemic ahead. first, other other top story today, lieutenant colonel alexander vindman, a key impeachment witness, is taking early retirement from the military after what his lawyer calls a campaign of bullying, intimidation and retaliation, saying that the president of the united states attempted to force lieutenant colonel vindman to choose between adhering to the law or pleasing a president, between honoring his oath and protecting his career. vindman had already been transferred back to the pentagon from the white house where he and his twin brother had been
key members of the national security council staff. now senators say he was being passed over for promotion. that is usually up to the pentagon and the military but the white house in his case intervened. joining me now is someone with a unique insight into the character of this president and to alexander vindman's work at the nsc, john bolton, former national security adviser to president trump, a former u.s. ambassador to the united nations, he's had high level positions in the reagan, george w. bush and george h.w. bush administrations and his new book of course is "the room where it happened." thank you very much for being with us, ambassador, good to see you, and congratulations on your book. >> thank you. >> i wanted to ask you first about alexander vindman, retiring after being passed over under white house pressure. interfering with the promotion lists. your reaction to that. you know him well. >> well, in my experience with him, i think he merited promotion. his performance was exceptional.
so was the performance of his twin brother who was in a different capacity at the nsc. you know, it was just as unacceptable for vindman i think to be singled out, for alex vindman to be singled out, even worse in a sense for his brother whose only sin, as far as i can tell, is that he was his twin. we don't know what his brother's fate is, but for alex vindman to retire from the military after it must have been 21, 22 years now, is really a loss for the country. and i'm sure that congress is going to be very interested over the coming weeks as to exactly what factored into his decision, his lawyer's letter highly critical of the white house. was there pressure from the white house? did the president's comments for shadow this. there is a lot we don't know. obviously we've just learned of this within the past hour or so.
so as i say, i'm sure this is going to provoke a lot of questions, and it should. >> and he has himself tweeted, we've confirmed this is his tweet, "today i officially requested retirement from the u.s. army, an organization i love. my family and i look forward to the next chapter of our lives." and he's seen there of course out of his uniform. it is a sad moment. and it does reflect obviously on the interference in the military by the president because alexander vindman had been a decorated veteran from iraq as well. i want to ask you about tammy duckworth today as well. she had raised this issue. she was holding up promotions in the military because she said that he was being denied promotion. and in the last 24, 48 hours, the president, the republican campaign, the trump campaign, have vilified her, saying she's not a patriot. this is someone who is a veteran and lost two legs in service to
our country in iraq. your reaction to that? >> well, let's start with trump. there is no doubt as commander in chief, he has the authority to do pretty much what he wants in terms of officer promotions. it's ultimately his decision. it's not a question of authority, because you're going to hear that from the president's defenders. it's a question of judgment and presidential character, really. this represents an intrusion into the discipline and good order of the military. whether the president has the authority to do it or not shouldn't be the subject of debate, because the interference i think is entirely inappropriate. now, as for senator duckworth, i think she helped put vindman in an intolerable position. he was faced with her hold on the legitimate promotions of dozens of his fellow officers.
i think he would see the honorable thing to do there, in part, to get out of their way, which he would not have had to do had she not interfered this way. this is the situation. let's try and avoid the commentary of the last 3 1/2 years in the trump administration. you're either 100% for everything donald trump does or 100% against everything donald trump does. this is a situation where both trump and duckworth are wrong. >> isn't it the case, though, that she should have gotten some answers? she was simply asking for answers as to why he was being held up. >> well, she can have a hearing where she can ask those questions. to put the hold or threaten the hold on dozens -- i don't know how many other officers are affected, very unfair to the other officers and really just as much a use of political leverage over the military as, i suspect, the white house under the orders or the influence of trump himself engaged in. this is classic "two wrongs do
not make a right." >> let me ask you about another case that is possibly coming up involving the president's judgment. michael flynn. should he be pardoned, if that is a decision the president clearly has authority over? >> well, it depends on what happens in court. i think that what's publicly available indicates that senior officials in the fbi engaged in very questionable behavior. i don't think we know all the public evidence yet, the court proceedings are still under way. i'm an alumnus of the justice department. i've worked with the fbi over the years, there at state and other places, on a waide range f matters when i was in government, out of government. i'm a strong supporter of the fbi. but it is possible, and i have seen it, and i saw it at my time at justice, people can rise to very high levels in the fbi and conclude that they are better than us mere mortals. and i think there was some of
that, i think it's been made clear publicly. so i think that i would like to see the court proceedings play out, but if flynn were set up and there is a lot of evidence to that effect, then i think he should be pardoned. >> what about rudy giuliani? he continues to work on ukraine issues, he's in and out of the white house obviously as the president's lawyer if nothing else. he had a shadow diplomacy that you had spoken out very strongly against. he was even an aspiring secretary of state. what about his role and continuing role? >> well, i don't -- i don't know everything that rudy's doing. that doesn't make me feel better, it makes me feel worse. and i think it's unfair to policymakers to try and keep a policy working when there are people obviously close to the president in the private sector who are undercutting what you're trying to do. i think this sows chaos in our relations with other countries. i think it leaves them to pull
back from us at a time when we need them. you know, if the president wants to put rudy into a job in the federal government, then he should go ahead and do it. but to carry on this parallel private track of diplomacy and foreign policy i think harms the interests of the united states. >> i want to ask you about the pandemic and china, because you write extensively about the president's approach to china in the book. the pandemic, clearly under this administration after you left, in january and february, the president was ignoring a lot of advice from the nsc, from other agencies, from intelligence, about what was happening in china, and you write in your book that one particularly egregious example was a news report that the administration tried to classify certain public health information regarding the united states on the spurious excuse that china was involved. of course china was involved, which is a reason to disseminate the information broadly and not
restrict it. this trump was reluctant to do throughout the crisis for fear of adversely affecting the elusive trade deal with china or offending the ever-so-sensitive xi jinping. so was the relationship with xi, do you believe, a real cause for concern when you were in the white house and now since, in the way we handle, the president handled the pandemic in the early months? >> i characterize the president's performance in january and february as representing an empty chair in the oval office behind the resolute desk. the president did not want to hear bad news about xi jinping. he didn't want to hear about chinese efforts to conceal and cover up the full extent of the pandemic inside china. he didn't want to be told about potential negative economic impact in china which could affect the trade deal. his quest for this comprehensive deal, sort of the great white whale of the trump administration. and he particularly didn't want
to hear that a pandemic could cause massive disruption in the u.s. economy which he saw as his ticket to reelection. and i think despite comments he makes which are simply false about the early steps he took which were clearly inadequate, had we acted more quickly earlier, perhaps the effect of the pandemic could have been reduced. >> his whole attitude towards taking information, reading intelligence, science, more broadly speaking, has had a big effect on the approach to the pandemic and other issues. what about the fact that he only takes two or at most three intelligence briefings a week, does not read the presidential daily brief, which of course brings us to the whole controversy over the russia buoya bounty intelligence, what about his handling of intelligence? >> he doesn't pay much attention to it. that's the worst thing i can say. it's perfectly appropriate for
policymakers to disagree with the conclusions and the that is analysis of intelligence officers. it's a subject of debate, it should be. but donald trump doesn't pay attention, doesn't read adequately, not consider ramifications. he thinks he's got a gut that tells him what to do. maybe that works in manhattan real estate, i won't second-guess that, but it doesn't work when you're dealing with questions at the geostrategic level of china and russia, north korea, iran, international terrorism. it just doesn't work. the president's predominant judgment on these decisions is based on his own political future. he's made decisions i consider correct, but that had little or nothing to do with the merits of the arguments, it had to do with
his fear of provoking a backlash within the republican party. so we ended up at the right place in a number of cases, for purely political reasons. and i think that's all a piece of how he looks at the world, how he looks at his role as president. and i think it's dangerous for the country. >> you wrote after the disastrous helsinki summit regarding vladimir putin, for instance, that this, as trump repeatedly obtained to criticizing russia and pressed us not to be so critical of russia publicly, couldn't this be part of the reason why an intelligence briefer would not bring that russia bounty threat to his attention, which was serious enough to warn the allies, to fortify our troops, surely even that threat, as it was being checked out, was serious enough to tell any other president. >> well, there are several levels here. the administration itself, if i understand correctly, has said that the information was in the president's daily brief.
now, he doesn't read the daily brief, so that wouldn't necessarily alert him to its significance. but the way the formulation of the in-person briefings went, at least when i was there, and i believe under my predecessor h.r. mcmaster, the director of national intelligence, the director of the cia, the briefer, and the national security adviser discussed what should be brought to the president's attention, and tried to work it out, either the day of the briefing or looking forward a week or so. this seems to me to be unquestionably something that at least you tell the president, we may not have completely firm information here but this is a pretty serious matter when rush may appear to be paying bounties to kill american service members. and i find it hard to believe that it was the briefer alone who made that decision. i think that the two briefers i
knew and worked with who were outstanding professionals in my view, i certainly didn't always agree with them but i think they did their job professionally, would have raised this and said to that group and others, shall we bring this up or not. so i think there's still some unanswered questions there. >> and presumably would have also briefed him to talk about it with vladimir putin rather than having multiple calls and inviting him back to the g7. the book is "the room where it happened." we have to leave it there, we know your time is limited. thank you very much for being with us today, ambassador. >> thank you for having me. and now let's go back to the coronavirus task force briefing at the department of education, they're beginning to take questions. >> kids learning and not falling behind academically, it's about all the vital services that children receive at our schools. it's about working families. it's about opening up america again. so we'll continue to drive on that. on your second point, i would tell you that at this point, i
think 90% of education funding comes from the states, roughly 10% depending on the state's budgets come from the federal government. and as we work with congress on the next round of state support, we're going to be looking for ways to give states a strong incentive and an encouragement to get kids back to school. please. go ahead. >> reporter: thank you, mr. vice president. the president tweeted this morning he disagrees with the cdc's very tough and expensive guidelines for reopening schools. do you also disagree with those guidelines? and are you concerned that you put the health of students and teachers at risk by trying to meet the president's demand to reopen? >> well, the president and i spoke about that this morning. and, uh, i think, uh, what you will see in the coming days, what you heard from dr. redfield yesterday at the summit and
again today, is very consistent with the president's objective and the concerns that he's raised. we don't want the guidance from cdc to be a reason why schools don't open. we want to partner with states, with local education officials, with governors, with local health officials, to find a way to meet their needs to open up. i think the president's statement this morning was simply reflective of that desire, and, uh, but we remain very confident that as we continue to provide resources, we're seeing not just k-12 education, i mean, all 47 states and two territories have already published plans and guidance for reopening their schools and we reiterated to the governors this week and again at the summit yesterday that we're really here to partner with them to achieve that. i think what the president was saying this morning is that if there are aspects of the cdc's
recommendation that are prescriptive or that serve as a barrier to kids getting back to school, we want governors and local officials and educational leaders to know that we're here to work with them to support the measures they're putting into place. but i think every american, every american knows that we can safely reopen our schools and we just want -- uh, we want, as the president said this morning, to make sure that what we're doing doesn't stand in the way of doing that. go ahead. >> reporter: just to follow up, when we're talking about the health of children, though, shouldn't the guidance be tough and should no expense be spared? >> well, i'm going to ask bob redfield to speak to that. one of the things that we have seen, and i tell you, as a parent, as much as your vice president, and the head of this task force, i've been, umm, i've been grateful for it, is that
apart from having an underlying health condition, children do not appear to be susceptible to serious illness from the coronavirus. dr. birx can speak to that statistically, on a global basis. and that's been a blessing for americans and american families. and so as secretary azar just said, we know that the risk of serious illness to children is very low. and there are measures we can put into place to make sure that we don't -- we don't see the, uh, spread of the virus or outbreaks in individual schools by having children learn in a single classroom or learn outside as often as possible and not go into larger settings. this is all the i have guidance that the cdc is putting forward. but i'm going to let bob redfield speak to that, because, uh, we really do believe that we can open these schools safely,
given what we've seen in terms of outcomes among children, uh, and, uh, and also the kind of measures we think we can put into effect to prevent the spread. >> thank you, mr. vice president. i think it's really important to be clear that our recommendations to open these schools are really based on the sound public health and safety and health of children. i think you heard already from some of the speakers, there's substantial health consequences that we've seen as a consequence of schools being closed, whether it's access to mental health services or it's access to nutrition. clearly we know a lot, and i think it's important that we don't react emotionally, but we act based on data. clearly the ability of this
virus to cause significant illness in children is very, very -- very limited. we know of the positit immune inflammatory disease we've heard about but it's very rare. in general this virus does not cause significant illness in children. secondly, and i think it's important, unlike influenza, one of our biggest concerns, we've been able to show, it's really schools and children that become the instrument of transmission throughout our community with influenza, we really don't have he have that children are driving the transmission cycle with this. the most important thing, as we reopen schools, as i mentioned before, we're prepared to work with every school, every school district, to help them find the right mixture of strategies for them to do this safely. our recommendations are not requirements. and they're not meant to be prescriptive. we have lots of different options on how the schools can
put it together. what we do want to reiterate as we reopen schools is to remember the importance of protecting the vulnerable. that we will be strong on. it's important to limit the ability of individuals with significant comorbidities, individuals that happen to be elderly with comorbidities, we want to limit those individuals, their interactions in general in society independent of schools. >> let me say just also in response to your question, i would recommend that every american review the statement issued by the american academy of pediatrics, that released an important report indicating that there are real physical and mental costs for children to be deprived of an in-classroom setting. it ranges from nutrition to children that have special
needs. we heard from dr. mccann-katz that some 700 million children depend on services they receive at schools. given the fact that children, as dr. redfield said, again, do not appear to be susceptible to serious outcomes from the coronavirus, we want to put their -- the totality of their health and their wellbeing forward and that all tells us, it tells the president, it tells this task force, we need to get our kids back to school. please. >> reporter: you articulated the problem, the myriad risks that students face if they stay out of school come the fall. but what's the plan, what's the administration's specific plan in terms of increased testing, contact tracing, increased ppe if it's needed, to support these schools? as you well know, schools weren't built for schools to
socially distance, they were built to pack in as many kids as possible, which is one of the reasons why the school districts in fairfax, virginia, schools in new york, texas, had moved to this hybrid approach, some virtual learning, some in-person learning. so what's the plan? and then i have a question for dr. birx if i may. >> the plan is to continue to do what we've done from the very beginning. as you heard again this morning, we're, i believe, 39 million tests that have been performed all across this country. you heard admiral giroir describe the extraordinary commitment in just one community alone. and what we've conveyed to governors is whatever support they need to get kids back to school, we're going to make sure that they have. we're going to make sure they have the testing resources. we're currently educating states on the possibility and working with commercial labs, the possibility of what's called pooling so that literally there could be one test run on, say, ten samples, and there are particularly universities that
already have built into their plans the idea of testing all of their students at the beginning of the academic year and then doing surveillance testing. we made it very clear, whether it's testing, whether it's personal protective equipment, or other resources, that we stand ready to provide those resources to the states and, umm, and, uh, we reiterated that once again and to the governors. but the good news is, because of the historic mobilization that president trump initiated, we literally have hundreds of millions of supplies of personal protective equipment, 59,000 ventilators in the strategic national stockpile, testing is scaling all across america, and we know that come the school year, we'll be ready to meet those needs. >> reporter: dr. birx, what's the infection rate among children and what's the very latest in terms of -- that you know in terms of how the virus presents in children, how
children transmit the virus to older adults, nearly a third of teachers across this country are age 50 and older. and what's the best practice in terms of testing children? i've never heard of a case where a school child was tested for covid-19. >> those are all good questions. and i think it really comes to the evidence base of what do we have as far as testing in children. so if you look across at all of the testing we've done and when we have the age, the portion that has been the lowest-tested portion is the under 10-year-olds. so we're putting into place other ways to get testing results from them and looking at antibody in that discarded samples to try to figure this out. parents have done an amazing job trying to protect their children, americans have done a great job in keeping infection rates low in children in the sheltering time and keeping infection rates right now in this new cases, originally i think we saw great protection of
people with comorbidities. we are worried now that as cases spread, that it's getting to the older parents and the grandparents. and i call on, again, every multigenerational household, get tested and protect those in the household. and we do know that there are children with vulnerabilities. and certain within the cdc plan and department of education, it's protecting those children also from getting exposed to the virus because we do know there are children with comorbidities, we know there are children in america with cancer and undergoing chemotherapy. but when you ask that question, the parents have so protected their children, and remember early on, we said test if you have symptoms, and now we know that if you're under 18, the majority of you don't have symptoms. so really figuring out, and there's universities working around the country on a saliva test, so it would be easy, easier for children to put saliva in a tube, basically what we call spitting in a tube or spitting through a straw into a
tube, and looking at that kind of innovation in testing. and what admiral giroir has been working on very hard is this antigen-based testing and getting that equipment into vulnerable areas like nursing homes, assisted living and other places. but also considering how a school district could use that would make it much easier to test and to use saliva. so all of those are being worked on. it's why we've been pushing on the antigen tests, you heard me talking about that in april, we're pushing on that because we think it's important for testing of students and testing in universities. our data is skewed originally to people with symptoms and then skewed to adults over 18. and so we are looking very closely into that category by using our antibody tests. oh, i think the vice president covered that incredibly well, we know that mortality rate in under 25 from the cdc data is
less than 0.1%. and so that has been holding. but until we know how many have been infected, we have no evidence that there is significant mortality in children without co-existing diseases. and that's what we're looking for right now, is to really make sure we've overturned every rock and understand that in deep detail. >> reporter: mr. vice president, we all know the cdc guidelines are not requirements, they're advice. >> right. >> reporter: and the president, when he calls it too tough or impractical, making it easier for americans and for school officials to ignore that advice? >> i have every confidence that governors and state educational officials and local health officials will implement the policies they think are in the best interests of children and families.
and i think the president this morning has shared widely by the american people and certainly by member of this task force. we want to make it very clear that -- that -- excuse me, that the guidelines we're issuing is not to supplant the laws, the rules, the regulations, the decisions at the state level. it's meant to create essentially a range of options. and what we made clear to governors, on the governors' call this week specifically, was that we are prepared at the cdc to sit down with state officials and to work through their plan and be able to advise and dialogue with them about the best way forward. but i must tell you that in this role over the last four months, i've been impressed by governors in both political parties and
health officials in all of our states and our territories with the way they've put the health of their people first. but i must also say that i have a great sense talking to governors and a great sense that this is something the american people want to see happen, governors are hearing that, they know that, that's why you have 47 states that have issued plans and guidelines and we'll work to make those a reality. >> last question, guys. >> reporter: -- and one for dr. redfield. can you explain why the president is threatening to cut funding from schools at a time when educators are saying they need more so they can safely reopen? >> kaitlan, first and foremost, what you heard from the president is determination to provide the kind of leadership at the federal level that says we're going to get our kids back to school because that's where they belong and we know based
upon what our best health officials tell us that we can do that in a safe and responsible way. but to be clear, the current c.a.r.e.s. act provided $13.3 billion to support education efforts in states in the midst of the pandemic. we're going to work with congress. we expect there will be additional support there. but the president is just very serious, for all the reasons we discussed today. he believes and we believe it's absolutely essential for our children's academic development and for their social and emotional and health and nutrition needs to be back in the classroom and we're going to provide the leadership from the federal level to do that. but that being said, i will tell you, i sense a great desire among governors around the country to find a way forward and we made it very clear to them that we're going to partner with them, providing them with
the resources to impact that, and also the supplies. >> reporter: -- describing it as a local decision. should it be up to them to decide when to safely reopen and not the president saying he's going to pressure them to do so? >> look, we're going to respect those unique communities that may have challenges, that have rising cases, rising positivity. and, umm, umm, but i think you look at the nation as a whole, i think what the president of the united states has made clear is he thinks, as we reopen america, when we reopen america's school, as the president said early in this pandemic, he wanted to get our places of worship back open again, what you're seeing the president provide is leadership, and, uh, what we're providing on the white house coronavirus task force is partnership with the governors and the state health officials, umm, because we've just got to get -- we've got to get our kids back. i -- i have to tell you, the
best expert i know on this topic is my wife karen, and, uh, she spoke at the summit yesterday, very compellingly, umm, about how a lot of our kids are hurting out there. we're struggling with loneliness, with social isolation. the american academy of pediatrics spoke about that, a very forceful statement from pediatricians across the country that said we've got to get our kids back in school. so what you're going to see, kaitlan, is the president will continue to provide leadership. i expect, uh, as the debate in congress goes forward about additional resources, we're going to look to build in incentives for states to go forward. but, umm, the president has made it clear, and i think most parents in america would agree with him, that we've got to get our kids back to school, we've got to get them back into the classroom, and we can do it in a safe and in a responsible way.
>> reporter: dr. redfield, you talked about the guidance the cdc put out. it sounds like you think it's in the best interests of schools and ways to safely reopen schools. are you going to change that guidance because the president has said he does not like it? >> well, i think i just want to reiterate, we're going to continue to work with local states and jurisdictions. i think the guidance that we've put out gives a series of different strategies for them to consider what is the most appropriate in their unique situation to adopt, again, and i want to come back to the goal, and the goal of this is to get schools reopened. i did mention, and i want to reiterate, that goal is just not a goal to reopen schools. that's a goal because we believe that's in the best public health interests of the students for the reasons you've heard. we will continue to develop and evolve our guidance to meet the needs of the schools and the states that we continue to provide that assistance to.
>> i'm sorry, i can't hear your question. go ahead. >> -- the guidance recommends that schools have social distancing of students, six feet apart. and that's why these schools are adopting these hybrid models, is because they don't feel they can keep students six feet apart within their building. so i'm just wondering if that particular part of the guidance is something you're rethinking or do you support that social distancing inside schools? because that's where schools, i think, are having trouble? >> well, the president said today, we just don't want the guidance to be too tough. and that's the reason why next week, cdc is going to be issuing a new set of tools, five different documents that will be giving even more clarity on the guidance going forward. but we know each school system has unique capabilities,
different facilities, and, what parents around the country should know is that we're here to help. we're here to work with their governors, with their local education officials, to get our kids back to school. the truth of the matter is that as we reopen america, we've got to reopen our schools for the well-being of our kids, for their academic advancement, for working families, but also, as you've heard again today, for -- to continue the momentum that we see in this economy, that we saw last week with nearly 5 million jobs created. i want to promise the american people, we're going to stay focused at this task force on saving lives, meeting the needs of our state and our health care workers, on protecting the vulnerable and reopening america's economy, schools, work, and worship. so thank you all very much. we'll talk to you in a few days. >> joining me now, nbc white
house correspondent and "weekend today" co-host, peter alexander. white house bureau chief, phil rubbicker rucker, and dr. kavita patel. you were just watching the task force briefing at the department of education. and most importantly, to watch the cdc head, dr. redfield, and then the vice president, kind of doing a two-step around the question. now, here are the cdc guidance, as printed out most recently. two full pages, including that critical question that the reporter asked, can students -- students should be six feet apart. and have many schools, most schools, cannot handle that. there's no question, peter alexander, that pediatricians, parents want kids back in school. that is the desire, but can it be done safely? and that is where the president insisting on the reopening and doing it the way he did the reopening of businesses, perhaps too soon and perhaps not safely in some instances, is pressuring
the cdc and clearly the cdc, according to your reporting and carol lee's reporting today, is backtracking on their guidance and coming up with new guidance that better fits the president's demands, rather than perhaps the medical imperatives. >> andrea, i think the biggest takeaway from that briefing we just saw was the vice president saying that they do not want the guidelines to be the reason that schools are not reopening. in effect they're saying, we don't want the public health experts are telling you to be the reason why they can't reopen. so they're trying to find a way to soften those guidelines, so they're viewed only as guidelines, not requirements, so schools are able to go forward. we saw the same thing between this white house saying, we're just going to open up churches right now, as well, with some guidelines, as well. this is a real pressure point, as it was indicated by the president's tweets earlier today. he said that the guidelines are too tough, very tough, but even as we heard from dr. deborah
birx a short time ago, as it relates to children, there is such limited data in terms of transmission from children, you're working with a limited amount of information, as schools are forced to make these decisions right now. >> and phil rucker, we know that the president is seeing things through the imperative of getting the economy going, which you can't get going until kids are back in school, parents need day care, employers need to have their workers back, but it's all, you know, a cactch-22, but the virus is really in charge here. we don't have enough data about children. and a lot of schools might respond to the incentives. the incentive is more money. that 10% can be enlarged and that's what they're talking about, throwing at money and districts and states that are willing to reopen. >> that's exactly right. and we've heard a threat from the president to withhold federal funding for schools that do not reopen, as he would like to see this fall. we should keep in mind, by the way, andrea, it's not just
children at schools, but there are a lot of adults that work at schools, the teachers, the cafeteria workers, the janitors, the school bus drivers and others and they, too, would be at risk when schools reopen. and that briefing, there was such a disconnect between the message we heard from dr. deborah birx about the imperative of following these health guidelines in so many of the states where the number of virus cases are surging. she says, wear a mask, avoid indoor gatherings of any kind, including gatherings inside your home. and then a moment later we hear from the vice president and education secretary devoss that schools must be reopening. that the imperative is to get those schools open. and that, of course, is an indoor gathering. so clearly the administration is not on the same page here and grappling with this virus, which continues to expand in a number of these states. >> and phil, dr. fauci was not there. dr. birx tried to hue a liew a
terms of sticking to the science. dr. redfield, not so much. >> that's right. curious that dr. fauci was not there. we certainly saw the president earlier this week say publicly that he disagreed with some of the things that dr. fauci has been saying. so perhaps he was not there for some political or white house reason, but we just don't know. but you're right to say that dr. birx did try to hue to the science, but dr. redfield made clear that he serves in leading the cdc at the president's pleasure. he's going to be fixing those compliance, as peter was just saying, to more closely hue to what the president wants to see coming out of the centers for disease control and prevention. >> excuse me, i'm sorry, phil, i was having a little trouble hearing. but dr. kavita patel, the balancing. this is such a catch-22 for parents, for society. pediatricians are correct that children are suffering by the lack of socialization, the lack of meals and mental health care and a lot of things that are needed by kids.
but at the same time, the risk of covid. how do you balance that? >> yeah, that's the word, balance is exactly right. and instead of talking about reopening, we really need to be talking about how to keep schools opened safely. and that involves balancing the concerns of parents, teachers, workers, as if you will mentioned, and also just the fact that we don't know much about children. we do know, it's well established, andrea, briefly, that children do not -- they get a less severe form of the disease. hay don't get as much of that severity. but we do not know enough about how much they can play a part in transmitting this disease, because schools have been closed since march. so i think we need to make sure that schools have the ability to open and open safely and stay open. that means the same three words i say all the time. testing, tracing, and isolation. you heard nothing about that in today's briefing. and it feels like it will be another false narrative as the fall comes forward. >> reporter: just to be a little more precise here, if children
get a smaller virus load, let's say, does that mean, necessarily, that they are less likely to transmit the virus, assuming they are asymptomatic? transmit it back home to their parents, grandparents, or others? >> yeah, andrea, that's right. and right now, that's based on the fact that children, even when they cough, their lungs are smaller. this brings up another important point. we're talking about children, like a 2-year-old is the same as a 14-year-old. and we now know that, in fact, children over the age of 12 probably can transmit the virus just like an adult can. again, it's all initial data. but smaller children just don't have that ability. having said all of that. if you do have somebody in your home that's frail or immunocompromised, then even a small possibility, andrea, is a very real one. so, again, this should be a conversation not just about reopening, but what are we doing to keep schools and families safe and what are the pieces in
place that states have? and already, today, all the proof we see is that we still don't have enough testing. we're talking about reusing ppe. so play this forward, if we open schools and keep them open, it just doesn't seem to add up. there's something missing. >> and peter alexander, we only have about 40 seconds left, but the president is going to be meeting with the president of mexico, an unusual meeting today. not a joint press conference. you will see the president today. but he traveled commercially, has been tested, but this is to celebrate a tri-country agreement, trade agreement without the canadian leader, the prime minister is not coming. >> yeah, that's right. we were told by white house officials that prime minister justin trudeau was not formally invited to this visit, so just within the next hour or so, we will see the mexican president arrive here at the north portico at the white house. we've also just heard that kayleigh mcenany will be holding
a press briefing a short time from now. they're trying to get on one page following the president's statements as related to children and school and what appears to be going against the guidelines of some of the health experts. >> peter alexander, thanks so much. thanks, phil. thanks, dr. patel. that does it for us on this busy day on andrea mitchell. tomorrow, my big guest, colin powell. join me then. amin mohyeldin joins me now. >> we are following a lot of breaking news today. let's get the facts as we know them at this hour. the white house coronavirus task force just held a briefing. vice president mike pence saying they are seeing early indications of percent positive testing flattening in arizona, florida, and texas. but as the pandemic rages, dr. birx urged americans to wear face coverings. the number of people in the u.s. who have contracted the coronavirus has now passed 3 million people. more than