• In partnership with Mount Sinai Hospital, Samaritan’s Purse opened a 68-bed Emergency Field Hospital in New York’s Central Park on April 1 to provide critical care for people seriously ill with the coronavirus. The COVID-19 patients it is treating are referred there by Mount Sinai Health System. Samaritan’s Purse has a large disaster assistance response team on the ground with more than 90 members including doctors, nurses, and other healthcare specialists.


MODERATOR:  Good afternoon, everyone.  My name is Melissa Waheibi.  I’m the moderator for today’s event.  Welcome to the Foreign Press Center’s videoconference briefing with experts from Samaritan’s Purse and the Mount Sinai Health System on their emergency field hospital operations in New York’s Central Park. 

First, some process items before we begin the briefing.  We’ll now mute all participant microphones, and please keep your microphones muted until you’re called on to ask your question.  If you have technical problems during the briefing, you can use the chat feature, and we will try to assist you during that time.  If the Zoom session fails or it disconnects, just please click on the link again and rejoin. 

And as a reminder, for today’s ground rules, this briefing is on the record, and the remarks from our experts represent their own organizations and not that of the federal government. 

Now, I’m honored to introduce our three briefers, who help lead operations which are providing critical care for people seriously ill with the coronavirus.   

First, Dr. Brendon Carr.  He is the chair of emergency medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the Mount Sinai Health System.  Dr. Carr, who has a secondary appointment in the Department of Population, Health, and Science and Policy, is a renowned emergency medical physician and health policy researcher who has dedicated his career to blending research, policy, and practice to advance acute care delivery. 

Dr. Elliott Tenpenny is the Director of International Health Unit for Samaritan’s Purse.  Dr. Tenpenny works to develop and maintain the emergency medical response readiness of the International Disaster Response Unit, including the management of the Emergency Field Hospital.   

And Ken Isaacs, is Vice President of Programs and Government Relations for Samaritan’s Purse.  He oversees all international relief projects.  Mr. Isaacs has more than 34 years of experience working in the relief and development communities, and his work has taken him to 120 countries in response to global emergencies resulting from wars, complex crises, famines, and natural disasters.   

Each of the briefers will provide opening remarks, and then I will moderate that time of Q&A.   

So let’s begin our briefing.  Dr. Carr, we’ll start with you. 

MR CARR:  Hey, everybody.  Good morning, or maybe good afternoon.  And thanks very much for the opportunity to talk with you a little bit today.  As Melissa said, I’m the chair of Emergency Medicine at Mount Sinai, and I started in this position February 1, and I’ve just sort of over the last two months come to know the organization and have had the great privilege of getting to know the folks from Samaritan’s Purse. 

I wanted to give you just a little bit of background on Mount Sinai.  It’s a little bit confusing because it is both a hospital and also a system.  So the Mount Sinai Hospital on the Upper East Side, adjacent to the park at 98th Street, was founded 170 years ago.  It, in short order after that, opened up its own medical school, one of the sort of few hospitals to open a medical school, and that’s the school of medicine that was subsequently renamed in 2012 after a gift the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. 

So, Sinai is one of the oldest and one of the largest teaching hospitals in the U.S.  We’re consistently ranked as being leaders in clinical care and research and education.  In 2013, the main Mount Sinai Hospital on the Upper East Side, through a series of mergers and acquisitions, became the Mount Sinai Health System, and now is an eight-hospital system with hundreds of outpatient practices and employing about 40,000 people across the greater New York area. 

On March 1, we diagnosed the first case of coronavirus in New York City.  And in the weeks that followed, the health system rapidly stood up a response structure so that we could leverage all of our capabilities across all of our outpatient practices, across our EMS system, and across, of course, our hospitals and intensive care units so that we could respond to the coronavirus pandemic.  There are, as of yesterday afternoon, early this morning, about 2,000 COVID patients in our hospitals; 450 of these are in intensive care units, but that does not count the patients that are inside of the Samaritan’s Purse Hospital, which we will talk about at length.   

It is hard to believe our relationship with the Samaritan’s Purse started really only a week and a half ago or thereabouts.  I – our emergency management lead, a guy named Don Boyce, who is a longstanding friend from my time inside of the federal government, had worked with Samaritan’s Purse and he called me on a Friday afternoon and said, “What are you doing tomorrow morning?  Could you meet on a Saturday morning with me?  We have some folks coming up from this organization that I know from previous disaster response work, and I’d like you to be in the room when we need to have a conversation with them about whether they might be able to help us to prepare for the surge in patients that are coming our way.” 

So from day one – we met that Saturday morning.  We can tell the story a little more.  I’ll let the folks from Samaritan’s Purse tell the story a little bit more.  But we met that morning; we talked through our needs; we talked through the great demands in inpatient care that were going to become apparent in the greater New York area.  And a partnership was born that has really moved at light speed.  We have – we met that day.  We scouted sites across the city.  We selected the site where they are now.  And we have worked with twice-a-day huddles to make sure that every process, every piece of the partnership – from clinical care to operational and logistics care – has allowed us to take high-quality care of the patients that are part of our system.  And that system now includes the Samaritan Purse field hospital. 

They’ve been wonderful partners.  I’m glad to be here with them today.  Thank you for a couple minutes to talk about us, and I will hand it right back to Melissa to introduce the Samaritan’s Purse folks. 

MODERATOR:  Thank you, Dr. Carr, for your remarks.  I think we will begin with Dr. Tenpenny first and then to Mr. Isaacs. 

MR TENPENNY:  Absolutely.  Thank you for having us.  My name’s Elliott Tenpenny and I, as you said, serve with Samaritan’s Purse overseeing some of our emergency medical response capacities.  As Brendan was saying, this relationship has taken about the last 10 to 14 days to fully develop.  We have gotten out a large capacity here in Central Park with our emergency field hospital and our emergency field hospital here in Central Park, taking care of respiratory patients.   

We initially came in, as Brendan was saying, on that initial first day and met with Don Boyce and his team, along with Brendan and multiple others, and it was quite fun.  We were all just learning each other and understanding what we could bring to the table and what they have the needs of.  It was clear that they were communicating with us the need for significantly more in-patient bed capacity.  And to do that, we brought in a 68-bed field hospital facility.  This field hospital system has produced multiple different deployments, all being international in the past.  So deployments to Ecuador after earthquakes, to war zones, to most recently in the Bahamas after a large hurricane. 

The hospital here was tailored to be able to provide for COVID-19 patients and provide ICU-level capacity.  So right now, it has 68-bed capacity here in Central Park across the street from – across 5th Avenue from the main Mount Sinai Hospital.  The ICU has 10-patient – capacity to take care of 10 additional ventilated patients.  And as I know from this morning, we had about 55 patients and nine patients in the ICU.   

It’s been a great partnership, frankly.  It shows what we can do when everyone sets their mind on the same goal and everyone does their part to come alongside and take care of the people here in New York City.  The twice-a-day huddles have been quite successful to coordinate in a very quick timeline the care that Mount Sinai gives, and that we’re giving here on site, and we’re proud of that.  The coordination continues today with multiple ICU doctors and others that are within this facility, and we’re looking forward to the next steps to see what we can do next to provide additional treatment capacity, bed capacity with this partnership. 

So thank you.  

MODERATOR:  Thank you, Doctor.  Mr. Isaacs, when you get a chance, I think it would be great to hear from you, and then we’ll open it up for Q&A. 

MR ISAACS:  Melissa, my sound went off.  Did you just introduce me? 

MODERATOR:  Yes, I did.  

MR ISAACS:  Okay. 

MODERATOR:  Go ahead, sir, and then we’ll open it up for Q&A after your remarks.  Thank you.  

MR ISAACS:  Okay.  Thank you.  So as both gentlemen just said, the relationship, I think, between our organizations is great, and my role in international disaster relief is really a lot about humanitarian access, negotiating a way in.  And the truth is, even in the United States, which is not a place that we ever imagine that we would set up an emergency field hospital, there are still access issues.  You can imagine the kind of permits that would have been needed to put a hospital in Central Park, to dig across the asphalt road, to put in the electricity, the water, and the licensing with Mount Sinai.  But I can just say that we have been warmly welcomed by New Yorkers, by the state, by the city governments.  And we’re trying to keep our response dynamic and nimble to let it fit what the need is.   

And as we see the trajectory of the disease changing – we’re hoping that the social distancing and some of these lockdown practices are effective, and it appears that they are – we’re coming closer into Mount Sinai to see how we can help them in more appropriate ways.  Right now, most of our patients I believe – Dr. Carr could correct me if I’m wrong, but I think most of them are coming from Queens, which is unloading quite a burden from that hospital there, I understand.  So while it seems like our hospital is small – it’s 68 beds – I know that the senior leadership at Mount Sinai has been very appreciative, and we appreciate them quite a bit.  So it’s probably one of the best working relationships I’ve ever experienced in my life.   

Thank you.  Over to you, Melissa. 

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Thank you, sir.  Thank you for your remarks, gentlemen.  Now we’ll open this time up for questions.  We’ll first hear from those who are participating via the Zoom app, and then I’ll turn it to those who have called in.  For those of you who are here on the Zoom app, please click on the hand – like the raised hand button at the bottom of the participant list, indicating that you have a question.  And you can also ask that via the chat box as well.  And I’ll call on you once I see your names.   

If you have a question for a specific briefer, please indicate that, considering that we have three briefers with us.  And then when called on, state your name and organization.  So we’ll give it a moment or two for people to indicate that they have a question, and then I will call on you.   

Okay.  We’re going to begin with Olivia.  Olivia, go ahead, and you can begin with your question.  

QUESTION:  Yeah.  Hi.  This is Olivia Zhang with China’s Caixin Media.  I have two questions.  First is, as you mentioned, it’s mainly for like severely – patients with severe symptoms.  So I’m wondering:  What are their treatment right now?  I think I saw reports there was like ten ventilators are in the field, field hospital.  So is it mainly rely on the limited ventilators, or also like some kinds of drugs, say remdesivir or hydroxychloroquine?  And secondly, were – because I saw some reports about like anti-LGBT comments from the founder.  So I’m wondering, will every patient treated equally in this field hospital?  Thanks.  

MR ISAACS:  Can I speak to that? 

MODERATOR:  Yeah.  Go ahead.  Thanks, Ken.   

MR ISAACS:  So a lot of what we have learned about infectious disease has been in dealing with Ebola, and so our infection prevention and control measures have come from that area, and the particular therapy that Olivia just mentioned is one that Dr. Tenpenny has been quite familiar with.  He’s administered that before and he can speak to that in just a minute. 

The question about discrimination:  There’s no discrimination, period, for anyone, for any reason.  All the patients come to us directly after clinical assessment from Mount Sinai, and everything that Samaritan’s Purse does is based on need.  And I’m sure that Mount Sinai is in that very same position.  We – both organizations – have strong policies against any discrimination, and those reports that were in the press really are unfounded on that regard.   

MR TENPENNY:  So I’ll make a quick comment on that.  We’re one of the initial testing sites last year in the Ebola outbreak in DRC for remdesivir.  So our staff have used it extensively.  We are working within Mount Sinai to use all of the same therapies that they’re using in their hospital.  So any patients that we receive, whether it be on hydroxychloroquine or whatever it is, we continue that therapy ongoing in this hospital as an extension.   

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  We’ve received a question via chat from one of our Austrian journalists, and she’s asking if you’re able to talk about the ages of your patients, if there’s potentially a trend or a theme or if it spans, if you could speak specifically on that. 

MR TENPENNY:  Yeah, sure I can say a couple things on that.  We have had patients that have ranged from 25 years old to 90 years old.  I mean, there’s a large range throughout all the patient population here.  We haven’t seen specifically any trends, but we have seen what I can say the rest of the New York system has commented on:  This is not just a disease of an elderly population.  There are significant illnesses and actually critical illnesses in people that are young also, so it’s not just a disease of an older population, although they are at higher risk.   

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  We’ll go to Alexis from France.  I see you have a question.  Go ahead. 

QUESTION:  Hi.  Yeah.  Thank you for organizing this.  Thank you, to all four of you.  I was wondering if you could speak a bit about the difficulty of setting up a field hospital in Central Park and how you dealt with kind of the symbolism of doing that.  And my second question was about, like if – can doctors volunteer to join your hospital, and do they have to adhere to your statement of faith to do that?  Thank you.   

MR ISAACS:  So I will speak to that if I may.  Setting the hospital up – there have been some reports that sounded like we just sort of rolled out of the back of a truck and threw up a tent hospital, but that’s really not the case at all.  It’s something that’s been well-engineered and it’s a program that has been developed over many years.  And our medical capability, we’ve steadily grown it over the years for the purposes of deploying it in times of an emergency. 

A big part of that is that we have to have like a roster of people.  You can’t just take volunteers in to work in an infectious disease or to work in a war zone if they don’t have experience.  So we recruit people through our normal HR process.  And actually, all of our medical staff here are paid staff.  They don’t make much money; they come here voluntarily, but they are technically paid staff.  And so we have to vet them.  We have to vet their criminal record, their background check, their medical licensure, and we’re under agreement with Mount Sinai that when we bring people forward to work with us that they are people that are going to approve – or meet the standards of approval.  So we don’t take just medical volunteers dropping in.  We do have a volunteer portion of our agency called World Medical Missions, where we send doctors out to about 80 hospitals a year around the world. 

And the question is, “Do we take Christians?”  Yes, that’s who we recruit.  We’re a Christian organization.  We have that identity and that’s our creed.  The – sorry, my phone was ringing; one of the dangers of having Zoom calls.  But there is no discrimination in who we help; there is no discrimination in what we do for people.  But we are looking for people that follow the same creed that we do and have the same belief system. 

MRTENPENNY:  And I can speak a little bit more to the setup of the field hospital that was asked.  We had a great amount of help from all agencies here in New York from Con Ed to the NYPD, Mount Sinai, across the board came together to make sure that this was done very quickly.  So yes, it was challenging to set up here in Central Park, from permitting or whatever it is.  But the mayor’s office, the state, everyone worked together to make sure this happened as quickly as it did, and that’s why it only ended up taking just a few days to set up the 68-bed facility.   

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  I received another question via the chat feature.  I’ll read it directly.  It’s from Nora with EFE News.  It says:  “The hospital stands out in Central Park, but lots of people were seen running and walking around this weekend.  How do you perceive this from the inside, and do you have any message for people who are not taking the pandemic seriously?” 

MR CARR:  Guys, I’m going to take a swing.  I guess I would say social distancing, we’ve all become familiar with it and what it means.  And it’s true that people were outside this weekend in Central Park.  It is a challenge during the beautiful weather to ask people to continue to social distance.  We have – it feels, on the – so the Samaritan’s Purse facility is not receiving ambulances.  They are receiving transfers from the Sinai hospitals – 911 ambulances.  They of course receive patients in ambulances to transfer them, as Ken said, from Queens, from Brooklyn, from all over the city.  But on the 911 receiving side of it, we feel a slow in the pace of the patients that are coming to us, and that’s largely – that’s in large part a result of the 10 or 14 days of time that we have been socially distanced that is decreasing the incidence of the disease.   

So seeing people out for a bike ride, out for a run by themselves, with a loved one that they’re housed with, it isn’t terribly alarming to me, but we do need to be careful.  If that – it that’s not someone that you’re in the same house with, if you’re now meeting friends and going out as a group together, that’s a very different thing than staying six feet away from each other and getting some exercise.  We’re worried – I mean, I guess I’m worried – that the good weather and the news that says that we are plateauing and maybe about to hit the downturn is going to make people let their guard down, and it’s important that we don’t let our guard down just yet.  

MODERATOR:  Great, thank you.  We have a question from Edward with the Toronto Star.  Go ahead, Edward.   

QUESTION:  Hi, thank you.  I’m from the Toronto Star in Canada.  I was wondering if any of the three of you could just give us a sense – most of us have never been – I assume most of us have never been to a field hospital.  We may have seen them on the news or watched MASH, but can you give us a sense of the atmosphere there in the hospital in the middle of Central Park?  Like – just how does it differ from Mount Sinai’s other hospitals?  What is sort of the pace of the activity in there?  What are you seeing inside?  

MR ISAACS:  So I’ll take a shot at that.  If you were back in the hospital right now, you would find there’s a level of intensity among the staff.  They’re very professional.  There’s a lot of logistics going on from supply chain management to staff who are assigned purely to infection prevention and control.  You would see huddles of groups of people.  You would see the donning area where the PPE is put on and the strict procedures that we have to dress in and to go in, and then the doffing where they come out.  You would see all of that – storekeepers – but it’s all real concentrated.  I think we maybe have 16 or 18 tents here.  They’re different sizes.  It was laid out in a way – they always are – according to the site that makes logical sense for the flow of patients and medical personnel, logistics, administration.  You have to take into consideration security.  New York PD has been fantastic here maintaining the perimeter.  And remember, it’s an infectious disease perimeter.  It’s not like just a fence.  It’s – when you come into it, it’s a hot zone.  So those are some of the things.  Elliott, why don’t you speak to that also.  You can talk more about inside the medical treatment units.  

MR TENPENNY:  Yeah, absolutely.  So we have multiple units.  One of them is an ICU unit that has multiple ventilated patients in it.  We have a step-down unit that has multiple patients that need high-flow oxygen, and then multiple wards.  I guess one of the big – the biggest difference, which is obvious, between these – this field hospital and a regular hospital is it’s in tents.  It’s literally in inflatable tents that are built for this kind of thing, but patients are housed in a manner with multiple of them in tents that are receiving care.  It’s very interesting what we’re seeing, though, because the patients comment a lot that there’s a lot of camaraderie that builds amongst them within the tents.  We heard just from a few people that were discharged.  They actually wanted to stay there longer so they could cheer up their neighbor and cheer them on to make sure that they’re getting better.  They’re making friends there and it’s really a community that develops within each one of these, and that’s been great to see.  

MR CARR:  Could I just add one piece, that the structural side of this is that they are – they’re part of us.  So they showed up and sort of explained to us they are totally self-sufficient or at least they can be totally self-sufficient, and we said well, okay, but you also don’t need to be.  If there are – if your laboratory needs – would like to run a test that you don’t normally run, our laboratory is right here.  If you want to sort of tether into our – just choose something – supply chain, laundry services, whatever it might be, we can integrate with you and that’s what we’ve done. 

So Elliott referenced before that – someone asked about drug trials, and he referenced that yes, they’re using the same drug trials that we’re a part of, and that’s because we see them as – and they are, frankly – an extension of us.  So the camaraderie and the spirit inside of there – there’s a flow back and forth even of some clinical personnel.  Limited, they staff themselves, but some consultation with people from our side.  We even – we set up a telemedical device so that if ever they need a specialist from our side that they don’t have or they want to ask a question about one of the drug trial protocols, it is – it really is quite easy for us to interact together. 

MODERATOR:  Great, thank you.  I received another question via the chat feature.  I’ll read that.  It’s from Asahi Shimbun, which is a Japanese newspaper.  I think this question might be for our Samaritan’s Purse colleagues asking to please describe how unusual the scene is here in New York compared to other experiences that you’ve had before. 

MR ISAACS:  So I will take a shot at that — 

MODERATOR:  Thank you. 

MR ISAACS:  — because I’m the old guy on the scene here and I’ve been to a lot of this stuff.  What Dr. Carr – what Brendan was just saying is, like, unusual.  You don’t normally set up for an emergency next to a world-class hospital research center and all of the services – I mean, like, we think of things and – we need some carpenters and they’re just like – they’re on the ground and they’ve got that thing done and we’re moving on to something else. 

So that part of it is different, but it’s also – actually it’s a unique challenge working in first-world countries.  So the journalist from Japan – I was there in 2011 after Fukushima.  And Japan at that time was the second-largest economy in the world and it’s a very structured society.  The United States is a very structured society.  Medical practice in the United States is very structured.  So working through all of those laws and regulations are – it requires a lot to achieve that, to accommodate and meet all the standards.  If we did not have the relationship with Mount Sinai and, as Dr. Carr so accurately mentioned a moment ago that we are a part of them – if we didn’t have that trust, if we didn’t have that legal relationship with formal MOUs and all of that, but the relationship itself – this wouldn’t work for us. 

So I’m sitting here right now.  I’m in a command center.  I’m on 5th Avenue.  This is not cheap real estate.  The hospital behind me is in Central Park.  It’s hallowed ground in the heart of New York City and I’m watching cars go by my window right here in the New York Police Department.  So it’s a very, very different kind of a scene than it would have been in Mosul during the fighting to beat ISIS, or in Mozambique where a cyclone hit, or the Philippines where cyclone hit, or in an earthquake.  It’s very, very different, so I could say that about it, and Elliott, I’m sure that you can share some of your experiences as well. 

MR TENPENNY:  Yeah, absolutely.  I think that one of the things that strikes me is internally within the hospital.  Even though this is here in Central Park, it’s not in a war zone, it’s not in a sudden-onset disaster, it’s not an earthquake, but the level of need is comparable, honestly.  The way the teams are working, and the way that they are moving through patients, and the numbers that we’re seeing are honestly comparable to other disasters that we’ve been in.  It looks quite similar.  Internally the biggest difference is we’re in different kinds of personal protective equipment, PPE.  But other than that, we’re seeing the teams function, the same nurses function that we’ve had in other places.  They tell me it’s quite similar in its pace and in the numbers that they’re seeing. 

MODERATOR:  And did you have something else? 

MR ISAACS:  I just want to – night before last when I took off and was going to my room, I drove behind Mount Sinai Hospital, and there were probably 40 or 50 ambulances back there.  They’re bringing people in from everywhere, and I just want to acknowledge that the health care workers in this city are warriors, and they’re truly fighting a war right now.  Every night at 7 o’clock, thousands and thousands of people come out the windows of their apartments and their houses and they bang pots, and this is a phenomenon that’s going on around the globe.   

But Samaritan’s Purse is really – we’re just a little – we’re a blip here because we did something unusual, but the real people that are fighting this and saving lives are the cleaners, the doctors, the nurses.  It’s the whole gamut of people that are in the background, and they’re going to work every day, they’re risking their lives, putting themselves in harm’s way, and they’re in a war.  It’s a war that’s going on here.  I hope to see that tide turn, but I just want to acknowledge that. 

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Thank you for that, Ken. 

I did receive another question on the chat feature.  I’ll read that.  It’s from ABC Spain:  “So the data is showing a stabilization of the hospitalizations in New York, possibly arriving to apex or plateau of cases.  Are you feeling less pressure of patients both in the Mount Sinai system and in the field hospital?”   

I think this is both for Dr. Carr and maybe one of the Samaritan Purse reps as well. 

MR CARR:  Yeah, I’ll answer from the receiving side of this.  So obviously, like I said, several hospitals across the city, we have noticed variability in the pace in the different communities, even.  Queens, which is a part of New York City, is a neighborhood that has a lot of multigenerational families, and those multigenerational families often can transmit the disease.  The younger people are healthier, they’re out and about working or whatever and they come back home, transmit it to an older member of their family who’s perhaps a little bit more susceptible and gets a little bit sicker with it.  In the early days, Queens was the neighborhood that was most affected and affected the earliest.  We then saw a surge in some of the nursing homes in Brooklyn. 

So the pace was very, very, very rapid for several weeks.  I will tell you that – so we for sure feel like the pace has slowed of the people coming in, but the hospitals are still very, very full.  We never stopped taking over different portions of our hospital and converting – we’ve doubled our number of ICU beds.  We’ve built rooms in the – in, like, the fancy atrium of the hospital where we have welcome parties and sort of – and large events.  There are now – there are hospital rooms there.  Floors that used to be shuttered are no longer shuttered.  We had engineers and construction taking them back over. 

So although we feel it on the front end, we are still very much at capacity.  We are still – we will transfer another – I don’t know – 10, 12 folks, as many as you can discharge, to Samaritan’s Purse over the course of today because I know that my hospital particularly in Queens and in Brooklyn today are feeling overwhelmed.  So yes, but – yes, it has slowed, but it’s still very full.  We’re still very much at capacity.  We are not out of the woods. 

MODERATOR:  Ken, if you could speak about what’s happening in the field hospital, or Dr. Tenpenny. 

MR ISAACS:  I’ll speak to it.  So I think Elliott said that we’ve got 55 patients right now and about nine on ICU, and I think that that capacity is probably going to continue growing and growing.  I would say that what Dr. Carr just mentioned a moment ago about the new capacities that were developed in the foyer, the reception area of their main hospital, that’s true.  We’re looking at that with Mount Sinai to see how we can help with that with some of our staffing surge, but I think that it’s very important that people not drop their guard right now.  That’s the issue.  There is fear that, okay, the disease has reached the apex, and what the truth is – I’m personally observing more people out and about.  I’m seeing them drive more, I’m seeing them in the evening more, I’m seeing a few more businesses open, and there is a fear there could be a reinfection, that we really haven’t reached the peak yet.   

So I think it’s just important that journalists are aware of that and even write about that.  I heard Governor Cuomo yesterday encourage people.  He – it’s a sharp line, right?  You want to encourage people there’s hope, but you want to encourage them to – don’t get out too quick.  A lot of people are sort of stir crazy.  I understand that, but I do think that there’s a very real risk of a second spike, and so no one’s dropping their guard in Mount Sinai or in Samaritan’s Purse. 

MODERATOR:  Yeah, thank you, thank you.  I see a question from Brazil.  Go ahead and you can ask your question.  

QUESTION:  Okay, my name is Niyi Fote.  I would like to just ask about the use of hydroxychloroquine.  What you guys can say about that?  I will make a reference – like in Brazil – okay, the Brazilian president has been, I don’t, insisting on these medicine that is very helpful, and there was a situation in Sao Paolo, Brazil.  So there is the doctor, his name is David Uip, and he is responsible for the coronavirus area in Sao Paolo, and he got tested positive and he was admitted in the hospital.  But it’s – there is a probability that he used or maybe the doctor applied his medicine on him.  But what I would just like you to speak about this hydroxychloroquine and what you guys can say.  Is it helpful?  Does it heal?  Does it, I don’t know, help the patients or whatever?  

MR CARR:  I’ll throw in first and then sort of defer to Elliott.  Like – we know that there was some early signal that it was effective.  We know that those studies were not definitive and were not meant to be definitive.  They were what we would call “observational.”  We know that as of this morning, some of them, the claims have been pulled back because when people went back and did a second look at the data, they weren’t convinced that the interpretation was correct.  And so we – this is – there’s nothing new about what’s happening here.  What’s happening here is we in medicine look hopeful, for promising signal, and then we test it.  We – and that’s – those are the trials that we were referencing before that start probably in our hospital and then move out to Samaritan’s Purse’s hospital.  We – there’s no way to know the answer until we do the trial.  We all wish that there was a way to sort of get a crystal ball and look into the future, but there’s not.  We have to wait until we see what the evidence shows us.  

MR TENPENNY:  Absolutely, Brendan’s exactly right, and from our experience, the trials and these drugs have been used appropriately.  Samaritan’s Purse is running another field hospital exactly like this one here in Central Park in Italy, where these same drugs have been tried there.  And there is no definitive answer; there is no definitive data, unfortunately.  I think that’s what the world is seeing.  We’re still all hopeful that that’ll be coming forward, but I can tell you, as everyone knows, the people that take – that are taking these drugs, some of them are getting better and some of them aren’t, just like the people who are not taking these drugs.  So hopefully soon, we’ll have a better answer than that, but that’s what we have right now.   

MR CARR:  I’ll add one last piece, Melissa, if I could, is that another piece that we have done over the last couple months is – I don’t know if folks remember when they were covering the Ebola stories, that we used convalescent serum, and what that means is that people who got the disease and then got better, they created the antibody in their serum to help to fight the disease.  If we take their serum and sort of appropriately clean it off, sterilize it, you can then infuse that antibody, that serum into someone who’s affected and who’s sick, and we’ve been doing that for the last several weeks with this drug.  I don’t actually know of any of the people who have received that have been moved into the Samaritan’s Purse facility.  I don’t know that you would know.  It’s given when you’re critically ill and then you’d stop.   

And so – but there are lots of therapies.  Someone referenced before the anti-viral agents.  There are a lot of different agents we’re looking at.  This is American medicine at its best, trying to figure out what works, and I would even include some of that is the way that we’re ventilating people in the ventilator, the way that we’re positioning them.  There’s a lot of stuff.  This is what we do; we solve problems.  Pharmaceuticals are part of that and it would be great if we had a definitive magic bullet, but we just don’t have one yet.  

MODERATOR:  Now I’m going to give an opportunity for those who have called in as opposed to being on the app.  If you would like to ask a question and you’re calling in on the line, you need to press *6 to unmute yourself, and then I will just call you up based on your phone number.  So I’ll give a few moments for that.   

Okay, it does not look like we have any interest on the phone, so we will now wrap up this briefing.  I want to thank you all for participating.  Thank you specifically to our briefers who took time out of your insane schedules to meet with us today to give us a better picture of what’s happening.  This briefing will be transcribed.  I’ll share that transcript as soon as it’s available, and just thank you, everyone, for participating.  I wish you all good health and a good rest of the day.  Thank you.  

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future