Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Jack Harris of WFLA-AM Tampa Bay

Washington, DC (STL.News) – The US Department of State released the following statement:

QUESTION: It’s 8:52 on AM Tampa Bay, and we are mighty proud to have with us U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on board here now.

And Secretary Pompeo, I know that the administration is looking hard at trying to bring an end to this thing and to get the economy back in shape.  And what do we see happening next?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, first of all, thanks for having me on this morning.  It’s great to be with you.

We’re engaged in multiple sets of efforts.  You’ve seen many of them.  First is making sure that we have everything for our health care providers to deliver good health care for the American people.  We’re now turning to the task of making sure we do everything necessary to get folks back to work.

I was talking with some friends back in Kansas this weekend.  They are anxious to have the opportunity to get back to a more normal routine.  They were missing their church at Easter; they were missing the opportunity to be out working, taking care of their families. And so we’re now very focused on that as well.

At the State Department, we had tens of thousands of Americans who were trapped, stranded overseas, and we’ve now brought back over 61,000 Americans who got stuck when air travel closed down, trains and buses stopped moving around the world.  We’re very proud of the fact we got them all back home, back safely to their families.

QUESTION: Yeah, that number continues to grow.  It was 50,000 last week. Now, like you mentioned, over 60,000.  How far do we have to go as far as bringing everyone home that wants to return home?

SECRETARY POMPEO: So it’s a rolling deal, because you still have countries that haven’t closed down yet, but they could today or tomorrow if the virus hits them particularly hard.  So I’m sure there’ll be people in the days and weeks ahead who raise their hand and say, “Hey, we need a little help getting back.”  We’re ready to do that.  We hope that everyone will use real caution if they think about traveling in the course of the next week or two and reach out to the State Department and go to our website and check out our travel advisories before they go.  Better to be wise.

But we’re going to do everything we can.  We still have a bunch of folks who are out there who want help getting back.  Often they’re in difficult, remote locations.  So we’ve pulled people out from the Amazon rainforest to places near Mount Everest, people stranded all across the world; 109 countries now we’ve had to bring folks back from.  We’re determined to help everyone who needs help getting back to get back here.  There’s several – I think it’s 500-plus plane flights at this point.  It’s been an enormous logistical undertaking. But the State Department team, under the direction of President Trump, has done remarkable work.  The videos from some of these people thanking what – thanking the State Department for what we’ve done have been truly, truly moving.

QUESTION: Yeah.   We’re talking to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. And Secretary Pompeo, the big question on everybody’s mind is: When will it be over? When can we get back to normal? And nobody knows for sure.  The President has been pretty optimistic on this, and for that reason we’re all hoping he’s right.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah.  I think you got it right.  I don’t think anybody can say for certain precisely when that day will come.   But the President has talked about how we’re thinking about it, how he’s thinking about it.  He knows how important it is for people to get back to the things that they know and the things that they love.  And we are trying to lay the groundwork now, working alongside governors and states all across America, to put them in a position where we know that the health care system is sufficient, we know that the testing capabilities are sufficient, and we know that we’re in a place where now Americans can start to go back.

I think about a place like my home in Wichita, Kansas.  I know those people want to get back to the things that they know and love. And we aim to get them back just as quickly as we can.  I can’t give you a date today.  I don’t think the President can either.  But we know that we are headed in that direction.  We think we’ve now hit a moment where we’ve seen the height of the cases.   At least we hope that’s the case.  And we are working diligently to deliver on all of the elements of what the American people need to feel safe and secure so they can get back out there and rejoin their normal lives.

QUESTION: Let me ask you about China here.  How transparent do you think China’s been since the beginning and as of late?

SECRETARY POMPEO: We know how important it is that every country be transparent.  Your first question was about when do we come back – your second question was about when do we come back. That turns on data.  It means you have to have good, accurate, transparent data.  People have to share the number of cases they have, the number of fatalities.  Look, we know this virus originated in Wuhan, China, and we know at the front end that we were unable to get our teams in to evaluate what the risks were, what the transmission rates were, all the things that we were talking about back in February and March of this year.

We still have that requirement.  It is still the case that we need good data from all across the world.  And so we need every country, including the Chinese Communist Party, to share that data broadly, to be transparent.  That data saves lives.  It saves lives here in the United States and it saves lives all across the world.  It is our expectation, President Trump’s expectation, that every government will do that, including China.

QUESTION: Well, Secretary Pompeo, we certainly appreciate your joining us this morning on AM Tampa Bay.  And anytime you have a message for our people, just let us know.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you very much.  Thank you for having me on today. I truly appreciate it.  You all have a good day.