After weeks of failures and false promises in response to COVID-19, President Trump and his team are slated to deliver a briefing this afternoon on coronavirus testing. Testing has been a problematic issue in the administration’s pandemic response from the beginning, and despite attempts by the President and his allies to deflect blame, it’s clear to those on the frontlines that communities’ testing needs still aren’t being met.
The morning, Politico reported that Trump will visit Pennsylvania later this week to “[highlight] the government’s preparations for a fall surge.” Before Trump starts rolling out his message for the Fall, here are a few basic questions he should have to answer on his administration’s failures today:
1. Where are the tests?
More than two months after Trump claimed that “anybody who wants a test, can get a test,” the administration is still failing to help communities obtain the supplies they need to test their populations in order to open up their economies safely. The failure has been so monumental that Trump has attempted to shift the blame for the lack of widespread testing onto states themselves.
2. Drs. Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci have been clear that localized testing is needed for states to reopen safely. Why hasn’t the administration ensured that testing is up to par before states have started reopening their economies?
Dr. Birx said “we have to have a breakthrough innovation in testing” to reopen safely. Dr. Fauci echoed this sentiment, saying, “we need to significantly ramp up not only the number of tests, but the capacity to perform them… I am not overly confident right now at all that we have what it takes to do that.”
But Trump has been content to let his allies reopen their states on their own timelines, without mandating the widespread, localized testing experts say is needed, nor providing them with the resources to do so.
3. The White House is contact tracing and conducting frequent testing to keep its inner workings operating safely. If this makes sense for the White House, shouldn’t the same protocols be mandated for the rest of the country — especially in states reopening their economies?
On Fox and Friends last week, Trump said, “I’ve been tested a number of times… I get tested a lot.” Indeed, the White House has been contract tracing staffers who tested positive for COVID-19 and has repeatedly tested Trump and other staff. But Trump has encouraged states to start reopening without the testing experts say is necessary to do so safely — putting workers’ lives at risk
4. Trump promised in March that companies like CVS would help enhance the nation’s testing capacity. He announced a new, almost-identical plan in April. Where do these efforts stand? How many people have been tested at these mobile testing sites?
Trump announced in late April that mega-corporations including CVS Health and Walmart would help expand testing efforts this month. The announcement followed a similar promise by Trump from a month earlier about partnering with big-box companies to establish mobile testing sites to the same end — a commitment that wholly failed to come to fruition.
5. Why did the administration re-enforce roadblocks that hindered hundreds of non-government public health labs from assisting in ramping up COVID-19 testing efforts?
According to reporting by CNN, an April 2018 plan laid out collaboration guidelines for the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and a handful of non-government public health labs to work in tandem on testing. But in late January and February, the administration wasted valuable time that could have allowed more people to be tested.