Trump says governors are "responsible" for testing
Highlights from the White House Coronavirus Task Force:
- President Trump repeated that he's leaving testing to governors.
- Vice President Pence announced that there are now enough tests for states that are prepared to enter the first phase of reopening.
- Dr. Anthony Fauci said testing for infection would need to be essentially instant.
- Earlier Friday, the president tweeted "LIBERATE MICHIGAN," "LIBERATE MINNESOTA," AND "LIBERATE VIRGINIA."
President Trump reiterated Friday that he's leaving coronavirus testing to governors, one day after he announced guidelines for states to begin reopening their economies, "The governors are responsible for testing," the president said Friday. The guidelines issued Thursday came as several regional coalitions of states said they would coordinate easing restrictions.
Vice President Pence also announced Friday that there are now enough tests for states that are prepared to enter the first phase of reopening, although the Trump administration doesn't have clear figures on how many tests are needed moving forward.
"Our best scientists and health experts say we have a sufficient amount of testing to meet the requirements of a Phase 1 opening," Pence told reporters at the task force briefing. The president said the federal government would be sending out 5.5 million swabs to states in the week ahead. By Friday, the president said the U.S had conducted 3.78 million tests. Delays in processing testing have slowed the testing system.
Mr. Trump's guidelines on reopening the country relies heavily on governors, states and businesses, according to the White House "Opening Up America Again" document. The plan is expected to put much of the onus on states to develop sufficient testing and contact tracing systems.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's leading infectious diseases expect, said testing for infection would need to be essentially instant, and frequent, to guarantee with certainty that someone isn't currently infected, which is why antibody testing and tracing will be important. But while testing for coronavirus is a key piece of tackling the virus, Fauci warned it's just one piece of it.
"The emphasis we've been hearing is that testing is everything and it isn't," Fauci said. However, he also suggested there would be "enough tests to allow us to take this country safely to Phase 1."
During Thursday's task force briefing, the president said a handful of states that have already meet the criteria could begin the new guidelines "literally tomorrow." States will be very "vigilant" and very "careful," he said. Fauci on Thursday said the plan is not a "light switch," and changes will be gradual. The "dominating drive" of this plan was to make sure it is done in the safest way possible, he said.
Earlier Friday, the president tweeted "LIBERATE MICHIGAN," "LIBERATE MINNESOTA," AND "LIBERATE VIRGINIA," seeming to support protests of stay-at-home orders in which protesters were pictured violating the Centers for Disease Control's six-feet social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines. Asked if he thinks the protesters might be endangering others by failing to follow social distancing guidelines, the president dismissed the risks.
"No these are people expressing their views," the president said Friday evening. "...They seem to be very responsible people to me. But they've been treated a little bit rough."
Mr. Trump suggested he wants to hold his own gatherings in the not-so-distant future. The president said he expects campaign rallies to resume at some point before November, and that they will be bigger than ever. Experts don't expect a vaccine to be available before next year.
The president also announced Friday the federal government will be providing $19 billion in funding for farmers and ranchers, including $16 billion in direct payments and $3 billion will go towards purchasing food from farmers for food banks.
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