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What you need to know from Monday’s White House coronavirus briefing

President Trump speaks at the White House on Monday. (Alex Brandon/AP)
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The White House held its latest coronavirus task force briefing on Monday night.

Here’s what we learned, without all the noise.

1. Fauci downplays the idea of getting ‘back to normal’ pre-vaccine

Leading medical expert and task force member Anthony S. Fauci downplayed the idea of the country getting “back to normal” before we have a vaccine for the coronavirus, which medical professionals have said will take at least a year.

“If ‘back to normal’ means acting like there never was a coronavirus problem, I don’t think that’s going to happen until we do have a situation where you can completely protect the population,” Fauci said. “But when we say getting back to normal, we mean something very different from what we’re going through right now, because right now we are in a very intense mitigation. When we get back to normal, we will go back gradually to the point where we can function as a society.”

Fauci added: “But I believe, with the therapies that will be coming online, with the fact that I feel confident that over a period of time we will get a good vaccine, that we will never have to get back to where we are right now. So if that means getting back to normal, then we’ll get back to normal.”

2. Birx clarifies guidance about nonessential shopping

Another of the task force’s lead experts, Deborah Birx, clarified her comments this weekend, suggesting that people shouldn’t go grocery shopping unless it was “essential.”

Birx said that she meant that people should reduce the number of trips to the extent they can.

“We as Americans should be doing everything possible,” Birx said. “And what I meant was, if you can consolidate, if you can send one person, the entire family doesn’t need to go out on these occasions. This is a highly transmittable virus.”

She added: “Maybe once every two weeks, we can do a grocery store and pharmacy shop for the entire family. So it was really about we have to do everything we can.”

3. Trump resists nationwide stay-at-home order, but Fauci suggests some holdouts are close enough

There are still a handful of states that haven’t issued statewide stay-at-home orders, despite Fauci saying recently that he wanted this to take place nationwide.

President Trump suggested he might be persuaded to ask those state’s governors — all of them Republicans — to fall in line.

“If Dr. Fauci said that, I would be inclined to call them up,” Trump said.

But Trump cited constitutional issues with the federal government making such dictates — despite that not preventing him from merely asking — and doubted Fauci had actually said that. “I’m not sure 100 percent that Dr. Fauci said that,” Trump said.

In fact, Fauci said Friday when asked whether this should be nationwide policy, “I think so. … I don’t understand why that’s not happening.”

Fauci did say Monday, though, that some of the holdout states were doing something close to statewide stay-at-home orders.

“I had I had good conversations with the governor of Nebraska and the governor of Iowa here,” Fauci said. “And it’s interesting that functionally, even though they have not given a strict stay-at-home, what they are doing is really functionally equivalent to that.

“I want to make sure people understand that just because they don’t have a very strict stay-at-home order, they have in place a lot of things totally compatible with what everyone else is doing.”

4. The Comfort is now a coronavirus-treatment ship

Trump confirmed that one of two hospital ships dispatched during the coronavirus outbreak, the USNS Comfort in New York, will be used for coronavirus patients, rather than for other medical needs.

The ship was initially sent for those purposes as hospitals dealt with the coronavirus, but Trump said it will now shift purposes. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) had announced this shortly before the briefing.

“He called me up a little while ago and asked whether or not it would be possible to use the ship, with respect to fighting the virus,” Trump said. “And we hadn’t had that in mind at all. But we’re going to let him do it. And we’re also going to let New Jersey Governor [Phil] Murphy — we spoke with him a little while ago, and New Jersey is going to use it also because New Jersey is a hot spot. So Governor Murphy and Governor Cuomo are going to be using the ship.”

Reports in recent days have indicated the ships had very few patients for their intended purposes.

President Trump said on April 6 that Americans are praying for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was taken into intensive care with covid-19. (Video: The Washington Post)

5. Trump offers drug treatments for Boris Johnson

In the hours before the briefing, we learned that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved to intensive care as he continues to struggle with the coronavirus.

Trump offered Johnson best wishes at the start of the briefing and proceeded to suggest that American drug companies are offering his doctors treatment options.

“I’ve asked them to contact London immediately,” Trump said. “They have offices in London — and major companies. … They’ve really advanced therapeutics and therapeutically and they have arrived in London already. Their London office has whatever they needed. We’ll see if we can be of help. We’ve contacted all of Boris’s doctors and we’ll see what is going to take place. But they are ready to go.”

6. Trump spoke with Joe Biden

After indicating in recent days that he would welcome a call with his likely 2020 opponent, Joe Biden, and then tweeting about him Monday, Trump said the two of them spoke.

“I also spoke just a few minutes ago with former vice president Biden, who called and we had a really wonderful, warm conversation. It was a very nice conversation,” Trump said. “We talked about pretty much this. This is what we talked about. This is what everyone’s talking about. This is what they want to talk about. And he gave me his point of view, and I fully understood that. And we just had a very friendly conversation, lasted probably 15 minutes.”

Trump added: “I appreciate his calling as we continue our efforts to develop treatments and cures this afternoon.”

Biden’s campaign said he had offered some ideas about how to confront the crisis, but Trump said, “We agreed that we weren’t going to talk about what we said, but we had a very, very good talk.”

President Trump said that he discussed how to confront the coronavirus outbreak with former vice president Joe Biden during a phone call on April 6. (Video: The Washington Post)