In Focus: Trump’s Disastrous Coronavirus Response, Volume #5

The coronavirus pandemic in the United States continues to worsen because of President Trump. 

Volume #5: Trump’s Testing Travesty

The Trump administration’s development and distribution of coronavirus testing has been an unmitigated disaster, marked by technical issues, bureaucratic problems and lack of leadership. Don’t take our word for it — as Dr. Fauci said, “Yeah, it is a failing, let’s admit it.”

Now, instead of taking responsibility, Trump is trying to pass blame on to states and hospitals  who are begging for his help getting more tests. He mocked them, saying, “We’re the federal government, we’re not supposed to stand on street corners doing testing.”

Consider this: the U.S. and South Korea had their first confirmed coronavirus case on the same day — January 20. But the U.S. remains far behind South Korea on per capita coronavirus testing. Why? Because Trump delayed efforts to expand coronavirus testing for nearly two months, at enormous cost to our country, wasting precious time needed to stop the spread of the virus.

First, Trump repeatedly downplayed the testing supply shortage, promising in early March that “anybody that wants a test can get a test” when that simply was not true. While he falsely claimed that “testing has been going very smooth,” labs faced a huge testing backlog and states still awaited testing equipment.

Trump’s failure to immediately address the testing shortage had dire consequences. Health experts and local officials confirmed that his botched rollout of testing prevented them from knowing the spread of the virus early, rendering it virtually impossible to contain.

Trump’s testing travesty is the genie that can’t be put back in the bottle. His failure to test allowed the virus to spread rapidly and undetected. Because wide scale testing was not available, more people are sick, more people have died, and there is exponentially higher disruption to our economy and lives.

Trump botched coronavirus testing efforts from the start and has failed to catch up as the pandemic worsens.

  • On January 20, the U.S and South Korea both had their first confirmed coronavirus cases. Instead of adopting the WHO’s test, the CDC put out its own test kit that had to be halted after reports that it was producing inclusive results.

  • By early February, the WHO had shipped 250,000 diagnostic tests, while the CDC was shipping about 160,000 tets around the country, most of which would be deemed unusable because of fault results.

  • By mid February, just 2,009 coronavirus tests had been conducted nationwide, while South Korea tested roughly 1,000 people per day.

  • As the U.S. experienced problems developing its test, CDC officials established very limited criteria for who could be tested, which hid the coronavirus epidemic as community spread took off.

  • The CDC moved too slowly to tap into the expertise of academia and private companies, making it harder to expand testing and setting the U.S. far behind other countries in test production and distribution.

  • Internal emails showed confusion at the CDC as the agency underestimated the threat of the virus early on in the outbreak and struggled to communicate effectively with local officials about containment and mitigation.

Even as new tests were developed, Trump overpromised and underdelivered.

  • The CDC director expressed doubt in early March that labs had enough materials to conduct the coronavirus tests, while Trump and Azar dismissed concerns.

  • As laboratory workers warned of dire shortages of testing supplies, Azar suggested reports of shortages were “anecdotal” and caused by confusion about how to find alternative products.

  • While Trump assured Americans that “with each passing day, our increasingly extensive testing capabilities are giving us a better understanding of the virus and its path,” catastrophic shortages of supplies forced states to act creatively and on their own acquire and distribute samples for testing.

  • In late March, Trump denied hearing of any testing problems, even as states across the country continued reporting shortages of testing kits.

  • To cover up for his testing failure, Trump began to tout accomplishments that didn’t live up to the hype. Trump touted the opening of drive-thru testing sites, but only a few have opened nationwide and none were open to the general public.

  • And during a Rose Garden briefing in April, Trump touted the availability of a rapid test to expand capacity, yet states are only expected to get 15 machines maximum and only 100 tests each.

Trump repeatedly downplayed concerns about testing shortages and refused to take responsibility for his administration’s failed response on testing.

  • Trump downplayed the testing shortage in the U.S. and falsely claimed testing was a success:

  • Trump touted high numbers of overall testing in the U.S. as evidence that the testing issue was conquered, but the U.S. still lagged other countries in per capita testing:

  • March 30: The U.S. is “very much on par” with testing per capita compared to other countries.

  • Trump falsely blamed past administrations for faulty COVID-19 tests and nonexistent regulations for his own failure to produce sufficient testing:

  • March 13: “I don’t take responsibility” for the government’s failure to product sufficient testing “because we were given a — a set of circumstances and we were given rules, regulations, and specifications from a different time.”

In Focus: Trump’s Disastrous Coronavirus Response, Volume #4Volume #6

In Focus: Trump’s Disastrous Coronivaurs Response, All Volumes