COVID-19 Vaccine For 'Every American'
Earlier this week, Trump said that a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, could begin being distributed to high-risk persons within a month's time. On Friday, he expanded that, saying, "we expect to have enough vaccines for every American by April."
He said on Wednesday that the vaccine would be made available for free to every American.
Scott Atlas, a Hoover Institute senior fellow and adviser on Trump's coronavirus task force, further clarified that 100 million doses of a vaccine would be available by the end of the year, and some 700 million doses would be available by the end of the first quarter of fiscal year 2021, which ends on March 31. The US population is roughly 328 million.
"It's not a forced vaccination, of course," Atlas added, but noted that prioritized individuals, which includes elderly people and first responders, would be bumped to the front of the line for protection.
On Wednesday, Trump disputed statements by Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who said earlier in the day that a vaccine would likely not be ready before the summer of 2021. Trump claimed Redfield had misunderstood the question asked him.
Trump has not said which vaccine he expects to be ready by mid-October. A number of companies and institutions have been working on a COVID-19 vaccine, including British-Swedish pharmaceudical firm AstraZeneca and US-based Moderna. Russia announced its Sputnik V vaccine, the world's first, had been released last month, and China is testing another 11 potential vaccines.
Roughly 6.7 million Americans have contracted COVID-19 and nearly 198,000 have died from the virus, which targets the respiratory system, according to data compiled by the New York Times. Total US cases comprise roughly 22% of all cases worldwide, although the US population is just 4.25% of the world's population.
Puerto Rico Aid Package
Trump announced at the Friday press conference that he would be sending some $13 billion in aid to Puerto Rico, a US territory in the Caribbean Sea that is struggling to recover from the catastrophic direct hit by Hurricane Maria in September 2017.
The Category 5 storm, one of the strongest cyclones ever recorded and the worst natural disaster ever to strike Puerto Rico, knocked out all power on the island and killed at least 3,000 people. Trump said the aid package was to rebuild electrical infrastructure and other civil institutions such as schools.
However, Trump has claimed in the past that the island had already received "more money than has ever been gotten for a hurricane before" - claims the Washington Post has disproven.
TikTok Deal 'Could Go Quickly'
The US Department of Commerce announced earlier on Friday that Americans would be blocked from downloading the popular Chinese-owned social media apps TikTok and WeChat on September 20. Trump has pressured TikTok's owner, Beijing-based ByteDance, to sell its business in the US, since its proximity to the Communist Party of China means the app "threaten[s] the national security, foreign policy, and the economy of the US."
Trump told reporters Friday he expected that with the new limits in place, a deal for ByteDance to sell TikTok's US assets to an American company "could go quickly." While ByteDance rejected Microsoft's bid for the app, the Trump administration is reportedly reviewing a bid by Oracle.