White House COVID-19 Taskforce Claims Testing Capacity Sufficient for First Phase of Ending Lockdown

© REUTERS / JOSHUA ROBERTSU.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the administration's response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak during the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 5, 2020
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the administration's response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak during the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 5, 2020 - Sputnik International
Subscribe
US
India
Global
On 16 April President Donald Trump unveiled federal guidelines that would govern the gradual easing of social distancing measures in some parts of the country. But some governors and public health officials have slammed the plan for lacking a widespread testing component.

US vice-president Mike Pence insisted on Friday that there were enough COVID-19 tests to enable states to follow the first phase of federal guidelines released on 16 April to gradually begin relaxing pandemic-triggered lockdown measures, reports The Guardian.

Responding to criticism of the administration’s roadmap to reopen the country Pence told a White House briefing for reporters:

“Our best scientists and health experts assess that today we have a sufficient amount of testing to meet the requirements of a phase one reopening if state governors should choose to do that.”

Underscoring that the federal government would expect states to bear responsibility for testing programmes, Pence added:

“As the president’s made clear, we want governors and states to manage the testing operations in their states. We’ve given criteria, we’ve given guidance for how we think that would best operate, but we’re looking for the states, we’re looking for the governors to manage it.”
© REUTERS / LEAH MILLISPresident Donald Trump announces the Trump administration's guidelines for "Opening Up America Again" as a U.S. Secret Service agent, Vice President Mike Pence and Dr Anthony Fauci look on during the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 16, 2020
White House COVID-19 Taskforce Claims Testing Capacity Sufficient for First Phase of Ending Lockdown - Sputnik International
President Donald Trump announces the Trump administration's guidelines for "Opening Up America Again" as a U.S. Secret Service agent, Vice President Mike Pence and Dr Anthony Fauci look on during the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 16, 2020

As the current US death toll tops 37,000, with a total of over 706, 700 registered cases of the virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, Pence said 3.7 million tests had been conducted nationwide.

© AP Photo / John MinchilloIn this Monday, April 13, 2020 file photo, a patient arrives in an ambulance cared for by medical workers wearing personal protective equipment due to COVID-19 coronavirus concerns outside NYU Langone Medical Center in New York
White House COVID-19 Taskforce Claims Testing Capacity Sufficient for First Phase of Ending Lockdown - Sputnik International
In this Monday, April 13, 2020 file photo, a patient arrives in an ambulance cared for by medical workers wearing personal protective equipment due to COVID-19 coronavirus concerns outside NYU Langone Medical Center in New York

The Vice-President noted that White House coronavirus response coordinator, Dr Deborah Birx was working to identify additional testing capacity, with the taskforce suggesting states activate existing laboratories to double the number.

Birx admitted at the same briefing that it's unclear whether there is enough coronavirus testing capacity in the US for phase two of the guidelines for reopening states.

“What we will be doing is monitoring how much we have to use in phase one to really help inform phase two… The really unknown in this, to be completely transparent, is asymptomatic and symptomatic spread, said Birx according to CNN.

Top US infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci acknowledged on Friday there are still areas to improve on testing, adding:

“We have to figure out how do we close that gap. Testing is a part - an important part - of a multifaceted way that we are going to control and ultimately end this outbreak ... But the emphasis that we've been hearing is essentially "Testing is everything." And it isn't.”

Donald Trump tweeted on Friday for states to “step up their TESTING!”, as in phone conferences the day before Democratic House and Senate members urged him to wait for coronavirus testing to become more widely available, NBC reported.

Trump Roadmap for Opening America

On 16 April President Donald Trump unveiled “Opening Up America Again” - broad federal guidelines for parts of the US to begin a gradual relaxing of social distancing measures imposed to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 18-page plan lays out requisite circumstances for certain areas of the country to allow employees to start returning to work, with state governors tasked with the ultimate responsibility of taking the decision to lift restrictions.

Phase one recommends strict social distancing for all people in public, avoiding gatherings of over 10 people, and refraining from nonessential travel. Businesses would close common areas and schools and bars would continue to remain closed.

The second phase calls for maximising social distancing and limiting gatherings to no more than 50 people, with all due precautionary measures in place. Workers who do not have coronavirus symptoms would then be allowed back on the job. The phase suggests the possibility of resumed travel.

Phase Three would see a resumption of “unrestricted” staffing at work sites, bars could move to “increased standing room” capacity and large venues might be reopened with “limited physical distancing”.

Donald Trump, under pressure to reopen the reeling economy as businesses closures left at least 22 million Americans claiming unemployment benefits, said at a press briefing after launching the roadmap:

“We must have a working economy. And we want to get it back. Very, very quickly. And that’s what’s going to happen.”

While states are not legally obligated to follow the White House’s plan, the unveiled guidelines pile pressure on governors to ease restrictions, with the latter attempting to push back, arguing that testing should be more widespread and urging the federal government to do its share.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a daily briefing on Friday:

“Is there any funding so I can do these things that you want us to do? "No.” That is passing the buck without passing the bucks.”
Newsfeed
0
To participate in the discussion
log in or register
loader
Chats
Заголовок открываемого материала