Trump To Provide Update On National Testing Strategy That Still Doesn’t Exist

Today, Trump will provide an update on “the Nation’s Coronavirus Testing Strategy,” which will be hard to do considering there is no national testing strategy. Trump’s failure to implement a strategy and to ramp up testing early contributed to his failed response that led the U.S. to having by far the worst coronavirus outbreak in the world.

Trump has failed to implement a national testing strategy and even suggested that he told aides to slow the rate of testing to paint a rosier picture of the pandemic.

Wall Street Journal: “When the history of the coronavirus crisis is written, the absence of a national testing strategy to better slow the virus’s spread while speeding the reopening of the economy and schools may go down as the biggest government failure.”

Washington Post: “Despite repeated calls to invoke the Defense Production Act to help resolve testing-supply shortages, the administration has resisted doing so. Trump and several White House aides have instead continued to think that it is politically advantageous to cede the issue to the states to avoid taking ownership or blame for the issue, even though testing shortages are largely seen as a federal failure.”

Reuters: “Trump Urges Slowdown In COVID-19 Testing, Calling It A ‘Double-Edge Sword’”

CNN: “Trump had told supporters at the rally that Covid-19 testing was ‘a double-edged sword.’ ‘I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down please,’ ‘ the President had said.”

The U.S. response to the virus was hindered by early testing failures, but Trump refused to take responsibility for the failures that set the nation’s response back weeks.

Bloomberg: “The CDC has been called to task for its in-house coronavirus tests that initially delivered inconclusive results. Health experts also criticized the agency’s guidance that appeared to limit testing to only the highest-risk patients. These blunders almost certainly set U.S. preparedness back weeks, delaying the identification of additional cases that might have slowed the spread of the disease.”

Business Insider: “In the news conference on Friday, NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker asked: ‘Dr. Fauci said earlier this week that the lag in testing was, in fact, a failing. Do you take responsibility for that, and when can you guarantee that every American who needs a test has a test?’ ‘Yeah, I don’t take responsibility at all because we were given a set of circumstances and we were given rules, regulations, and specifications from a different time that wasn’t meant for this kind of an event with the kind of numbers that we’re talking about,’ Trump said.”

Now, health systems are still rationing tests amid supply shortages, meaning Trump’s promise that ‘anybody that wants a test can get a test’ is still false more than six months later.

TRUMP: “Anybody that wants a test can get a test. That’s what the bottom line is.”

Wall Street Journal: “Supply shortages are forcing health systems across the country to limit who gets tested for Covid-19, hindering efforts to ramp up testing as flu season approaches.  The latest testing problems largely stem from a shortage of reagents, the chemicals used to process the tests, medical officials said. Some hospitals and other testing operations that spent months bolstering their capacity are now reverting to restricting Covid-19 tests to the most essential patients, as they did in the spring.”

Despite warnings in February of impending testing swab shortages, the Trump administration waited until late April to ramp up production.

NPR: “But despite warnings about supply shortages by health experts and governors at least as early as February, the federal government took until late April to ramp up domestic production of swabs — a universal ingredient in the most common type of COVID-19 test.  The swab test checks for active infections, unlike an antibody test, which involves drawing blood to check whether the body has recovered from the virus.”

Despite the testing issues plaguing the country, the Trump administration sat on billions of dollars in testing money for months.

Wall Street Journal: “Billions of dollars in federal funds earmarked for boosting nationwide Covid-19 testing remain unspent months after Congress made the money available, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  In April, Congress allocated roughly $25 billion for federal agencies and states to expand testing, develop contact-tracing initiatives and broaden disease surveillance.  According to HHS data, only about 10% to 15% of that total has been drawn down, meaning the cash has been spent or committed to various efforts.”