Trump Administration Fails to Meet Giroir’s Testing Projections
September 16, 2020
When he testifies before the Senate Appropriations Committee today, Brett Giroir will have to answer for the Trump administration’s failure to perform the 40 to 50 million tests per month Giroir promised we’d have the capacity for by September. In reality, the U.S. is barely conducting half that many tests. While experts agree far more tests are necessary — with estimates as high as 200 million tests per month needed to contain the outbreak — the White House is pushing to lower the number of tests in an effort to help Trump’s reelection campaign. Trump is once again putting his own political interests ahead of the health and safety of the American people.
Giroir insisted again and again that the U.S. would have the capacity to run at least 40 to 50 million tests per month by September, and even said the number could “easily” reach 80 million per month.
MAY — GIROIR: “By September … we project that our nation will be capable of performing at least 40, 50 million tests per month if needed at that time and if the technologies are authorized … or any novel solutions uncovered by NIH’s new diagnostics initiative, that number will be much higher.”
JUNE — GIROIR: “Even without any major technical advances I estimate the nation will have the capacity to perform between 40, 50 million test per month by fall.”
JULY — GIROIR: “Even without major technical advances, I estimate the nation will have the capacity to perform 40 to 50 million tests per month by fall. But with emerging new techniques like pooling of samples combined with investments in point of care technologies, that number could easily be 80 million available per month if they are needed.”
Despite Giroir’s repeated promises, the U.S. is nowhere close to running 40 to 50 million tests per month, with only 10 million tests reported in the first half of September.
Washington Post: “The United States should be able to conduct 40 million to 50 million coronavirus tests a month by now, according to a prediction by a top Trump administration health official in June. … A much smaller figure — around 9 million tests — appear to actually have been performed in the United States so far in September.”
COVID Tracking Project: 10,159,309 reported tests in the U.S. between Sep 1, 2020 and Sep 15, 2020, a rate that would result in 20,318,618 tests completed in the entire month of September.
Experts agree far more tests are needed, with a recent report finding the U.S. needs 200 million tests per month to control the pandemic.
Rockefeller Foundation and Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy Report: “At present infection rates, a basic screening strategy will require approximately 200 million tests each month for students and staff at the nation’s primary and secondary schools and residents and staff at nursing homes for them to open safely and in stages. But fewer than 25 million Covid-19 tests are now reported monthly in the United States. Even if infection rates decline, the testing needed in just schools and nursing homes exceeds the nation’s entire capacity now.”
New York Times: “‘We’re Clearly Not Doing Enough’: Drop in Testing Hampers Coronavirus Response”
Instead of increasing testing, Trump’s administration has sought to lower the number of tests in order to boost Trump’s reelection chances.
Politico: “Just eight weeks from election day, the White House has stopped trying to contain the coronavirus — shifting instead to shielding the nation’s most vulnerable groups and restoring a sense of normalcy. The change is part of a concerted effort by the White House to increase public approval of President Donald Trump’s pandemic response — and bolster his reelection chances — by sharply reducing Covid-19 case counts and the number of deaths and hospitalizations attributed to virus, according to five people familiar with the strategy.”
Washington Post: “An abrupt shift this week in government testing guidelines for Americans exposed to the novel coronavirus was directed by the White House’s coronavirus task force, alarming outside public health experts who warn the change could hasten the disease’s spread.