WATCH: White House Gives Coronavirus Update As FEMA Takes Bigger Role
The Food and Drug Administration is trying to clear the way to expand the types of medicines or treatments available during the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump said on Thursday.
Early trials have begun for a prospective coronavirus vaccine and the FDA also is working to permit patients to have access to medicines approved for use in other countries or for other uses.
FDA officials want to expand the treatments available during the pandemic in a way that's both fast and responsible, Trump said, so that authorities can monitor what works as soon as practical.
"Immediately — like, as fast as we can get it," the president said.
Trump said the measures he announced on Thursday could be a "game-changer," but "maybe not."
Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the FDA, said he wanted to assure Americans that the agency would go as fast as it could to broaden access to new medicines and treatment but that it remained bound by its mission to ensure that those products would be safe.
"We are looking at everything that's coming across our desks as treatment options for coronavirus," he said. "We need to make sure the sea of treatment will get the right drug to the right patient at the right dosage at the right time."
Conference with governors
Trump was set to speak with governors on Thursday from the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency as states work out what they need to be able to care for what is expected to be a wave of people needing treatment for the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
FEMA is accustomed to responding when natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes overwhelm local resources, but the scope and scale of the coronavirus pandemic presents huge logistical challenges.
Trump is under pressure to show that his administration has the situation in hand as Americans have seen their day-to-day lives dramatically changed.
Schools are closed, people are heeding warnings to stay away from others, and many have lost their income as the economy is shocked into a stop.
As of Thursday morning, more than 9,000 people have been confirmed with the virus in the United States, and 150 people have died.
Meanwhile, Trump's administration is negotiating with Congress on a new package of aid to help people and businesses through the huge economic losses from the crisis. It will be the third round of aid in two months. Trump signed the second package into law Wednesday night.
But the virus is making it hard for lawmakers to do their work. On Wednesday evening, two congressmen said they had tested positive for the virus, and others who had met with them — including Rep. Steve Scalise, the No. 2 Republican in the House — said they would self-quarantine, to be safe.