Trump was joined at the briefing by his key health advisers, including Fauci, Deborah Birx and Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading the administration’s response.
A growing number of governors earlier Monday followed the lead of fellow executives, announcing closures of bars, restaurants and other venues in states across the country. The new guidance similarly calls for any bars, restaurants, food courts, gyms and other venues to be closed in areas where there’s evidence of community transmission.
Trump held separate video teleconferences with G-7 leaders and governors on Monday morning to discuss the response to the coronavirus.
“Went very well,” he tweeted after speaking to governors.
During the conversation, however, Trump urged governors to try to get respirators, ventilators and other equipment themselves.
“We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves,” the president told them, according to a source in the room. “Point of sales, much better, much more direct if you can get it yourself.”
The New York Times first reported the president’s remarks to governors.
Trump told reporters that governors would be able to get what they need sooner if they don’t rely on the federal government. Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, a Democrat, said while “the words did not quite come out right,” the president encouraged states to use whatever supply chains they have access to while the federal government attempts to maintain more respirators and ventilators.
Members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force also stressed the important role millennials can play in combating the spread of the virus. Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, called that generation “the core group that will stop the virus.”
She said millennials are the most likely group to be the least symptomatic but also the group most likely to be out and about and in social gatherings. That means they could unknowingly spread the virus to more vulnerable older people or those with underlying issues if they ignore guidance and recommendations, but they’re also adept at communicating via text and across social media platforms.
“Public health people like myself don’t always come out with compelling and exciting messages that a 25- to 35-year-old may find interesting and something that they’ll take to heart,” Birx said. “But millennials can speak to one another about how important it is in this moment to protect all of the people.”
Surgeon General Jerome Adams told CNN on Monday morning that the U.S. was “at a critical inflection point,” noting that America now has the same number of cases that Italy had two weeks ago. Italy is now on lockdown as it deals with more than 27,000 cases of the coronavirus, trailing only China, where the outbreak began.
“We have a choice to make: Do we want to really lean into social distancing and mitigation strategies and flatten the curve or do we just want to keep going on with business as usual and end up being Italy?” Adams said.
As of Monday afternoon, more than 4,100 cases have been confirmed in the U.S., though experts expect that number to rise as more testing becomes available. More than 70 people have died.
Rachel Roubein and Dan Goldberg contributed to this report.