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‘Delusional,’ ‘Absolutely False’: Governors Blast Trump Over Testing Claims

“Anybody who wants a test can get a test,” President Donald Trump said in mid-March.
At each of his daily briefings, Trump touts coronavirus testing. “As of today, we’ve tested 4.18 million Americans,” Trump said Sunday. “That’s a record anywhere in the world. The United States has now conducted more total tests than all of the following nations combined: France, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, India, Austria, Australia, Sweden, and Canada. And our testing is expanding very rapidly by millions and millions of people.”
Uh, not so much, say state governors. The governors say Trump’s claims that states have “sufficient” numbers of coronavirus tests are not accurate.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, said Sunday that Trump is “delusional” to suggest the states have enough tests to conduct enough of them to reopen their economies any time soon.
“That’s just delusional to be making statements like that,” Northam said on CNN‘s “State of the Union.”
“We have been fighting every day for PPE [personal protective equipment]. And we have got some supplies now coming in. We have been fighting for testing. It’s not a — it’s not a straightforward test. We don’t even have enough swabs, believe it or not. And we’re ramping that up. But for the national level say that we have what we need, and really to have no guidance to the state levels, is just irresponsible, because we’re not there yet.”
The same charge came from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, who said on CNN that “lack of testing” is “probably the number one problem in America, and has been from the beginning of this crisis.”
“And I have repeatedly made this argument to the leaders in Washington on behalf of the rest of the governors in America,” Hogan said. “And I can tell you, I talk to governors on both sides of the aisle nearly every single day. The administration, I think, is trying to ramp up testing, and trying — they are doing some things with respect to private labs. But to try to push this off to say that the governors have plenty of testing, and they should just get to work on testing, somehow we aren’t doing our job, is just absolutely false.”
Hogan said he, like other governors, have been “fighting and clawing to get more tests” from the federal government, as well as private labs that are just beginning to mass produce them. And he did acknowledge that federal government is upping its game.
“So, look, I think they have made some strides at the federal level,” Hogan said. “I think states are all working hard on their own to find their own testing. Lab capacity has been increasing. But it’s not accurate to say there’s plenty of testing out there, and the governors should just get it done. That’s just not being straightforward.”
But governors have they said are short on the necessary equipment to conduct widespread testing. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, said on “Meet the Press” that he “could probably double, maybe even triple testing in Ohio virtually overnight if the FDA would prioritize companies that are putting a slightly different formula together for the extraction reagent kit.
“If anyone at the FDA is watching, this would really take our capacity up literally overnight, and that’s what we need to get moving in Ohio,” he said.
Dr. Deborah Birx, who serves as the Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the Trump administration’s White House Coronavirus Task Force, said last week that excess testing capacity of 1 million tests per week is now available. But at that rate, it would take more than six years to test every American.
In New York, they’re testing about 28 people per 1,000 — and that’s the state with the highest rate. In places like Virginia, they’re testing fewer than six people out of 1,000. And so far, just 3.9 million Americans have been tested, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering. That means just 1.1% of Americans have been tested.
But testing is now the key to reopening the U.S. economy. Once people know they’ve had it, they’ll know they’re now immune (for a year or two, at least, doctors say) and can return to work.
Last week, the White House revised its own recommendations, saying testing will be led by the states.
Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the White House Task Force, said the U.S. can test 150,000 people per day.
“There is a sufficient capacity of testing across the country today for any state in America to go to a Phase 1 level, which contemplates testing people that have symptoms of coronavirus, and also doing the kind of monitoring of vulnerable populations in our cities, in our nursing homes, that we ought to be watching very carefully for outbreaks,” Pence told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
Birx, meanwhile, told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday that “What we’re trying to do is look at this in a very data-driven, granular scientific methodologies to protect community by community the testing that is needed. At the same time, working with every laboratory director across the country that have these multiple platforms to really understand and find solutions for them on their issues related to supplies.”

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