President Trump on Monday said the U.S. is on track this week to pass 10 million coronavirus tests conducted, and announced the distribution of $11 billion in federal funds throughout the states for the sole purpose of testing resources to achieve their testing goals.
“In three months the FDA has authorized more than 92 different tests, and over 9 million have been performed here in the United States,” Trump said from the White House Rose Garden Monday afternoon. “Three weeks ago we were conducting roughly 150,000 tests per day. Now we’re doing approximately 300,000 tests per day and it will go up substantially from that number. This week, the United States will pass 10 million tests conducted nearly double the number of any other country. We’re testing more people per capita than South Korea, the United Kingdom, France Japan Sweden, Finland, Finland, and many other countries, and in some cases combined.”
Speaking from the podium with two large banners that read “America leads the world in testing,” Trump announced that his administration will begin distributing $11 billion from the CARES Act funding that will be sent to “America states, territories and tribe” to help governors “build their testing capability and capacities.” The funds will be allocated on a formula based on how each of the states were impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, with the hardest-hit states receiving up to $500 million, as well as states’ overall population size.
“I am announcing that my administration is. And we’ve got this all approved that’s all done is sending $11 billion to America states, territories and tribes,” Trump said. “This has all been approved, we’ve gotten it done, completed. The money is going out. This major investment will ensure that America continues to conduct more tests than any country on Earth by far.”
HHS testing czar Brett Giroir said the U.S. has conducted approximately 1.9 million coronavirus tests last week, and “aspire” to do over 12.9 million tests over the next four weeks.
“That’s the total number of tests done by the United States. No other country in the world comes close to the total numbers again as the President has said,” Giroir said. “Everyone talks about South Korea being the standard. Today, we will have done more than twice the per capita rate of testing, no matter how you look at it, America is leading the world in testing.”
In order for states to receive the funding allocated for testing resources, Giroir stated that each state will need to have a plan in place that address testing for the “vulnerable communities.”
“There needs to be minimum numbers to be planned to test. They have to have plans for their vulnerable communities, including nursing homes, including those who are disabled, including those who are in prisons or who have working environments that they may have a more likelihood to spread the infection,” he said.
According to a senior administration official, to meet the White House goal of testing 12.9 million people in May, states will be asked to provide updates on their testing strategies and report specific those numbers to the federal government.
The president also announced several “tireless efforts” by his administration in expanding testing in underserved communities, such as collaborating with the private sector to provide additional testing site.
“My administration continues our tireless effort to expand testing in the most underserved communities through our partnership with the private sector leading pharmacies and retailers are now operating over 240 testing sites across the country and that’s an addition to all of the other sites that we have working,” Trump stated. “70% of these sites are located in communities with unique vulnerabilities. There will be more than 300 sites by the end of this week and retailers are making plans to open up hundreds and hundreds more locations within the next 30 days. These additional sites are helping us ensure access to testing and every community, my administration is fighting relentlessly to protect all citizens of every color and create from this terrible virus, the invisible enemy.”
Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the White House coronavirus task force along with Dr. Deborah Birx told governors on a video conference call prior to the press briefing that the federal government’s strong recommends states to test all nursing home staff and residents for the coronavirus in the next two weeks.
When asked by a reporter if he would mandate what Pence told governors, President Trump indicated that he will consider this measure since some governors were “very lax” in regards to nursing homes.
“I would certainly consider that. I will mandate it if you’d like. I think it’s important to do, and I think frankly some of the governors were very lax with respect to nursing homes,” Trump said, pointing to the early outbreak in Washington state as an example. “All of the state should be. They have the capacity to do it. They should be doing nursing home. That is a real vulnerability.”