Trump Highlights Bipartisanship, Partnership With States to Ramp Up Testing

April 20, 2020 Updated: April 20, 2020

At a White House briefing Sunday, President Donald Trump highlighted the bipartisan nature of COVID-19 response efforts and addressed calls by state governors for more federal help to expand testing.

“I just think it’s so good because it’s bipartisan. This is not about Democrats, Republicans, this is about a thing that hit our country, the likes of which has never happened to us before,” Trump said of the broader effort to counteract the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, the novel coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease.

The virus has spread aggressively across the world, with a Johns Hopkins tally on Monday showing more than 2.4 million infections globally and a death toll of 166,235. The number of infections in the United States has hit 760,570, according to Johns Hopkins, with the number of virus-related deaths standing at 40,690.

“This is being fought in this country, but it’s being fought in 184 countries all over the world. It’s terrible,” Trump said, likening the response to a wartime effort.

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President Donald Trump takes questions at the daily CCP virus briefing at the White House in Washington on April 19, 2020. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Trump said Vice President Mike Pence would lead a call with state governors on Monday to explore ways to enhance the all-government response to the virus and “to develop locally tailored testing strategies.”

It comes in response to calls for a national testing strategy to help secure in-demand supplies like testing swabs and chemical reagents.

“Many governors are doing this incredible work and they’re working with us very closely on testing and working in their states. And again, it should be a local thing because […] it’s all these points within a state,” Trump said, adding, “we’re helping them a lot and we want to help them a lot.”

The president said he would be using the Defense Production Act with respect to one company to increase swab production for tests.

Officials and health experts say the country needs to dramatically scale its testing infrastructure if it is going to safely roll back restrictions and reopen businesses without risking a major spike in infections.

Anthony Fauci and Trump
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks alongside President Donald Trump at a press briefing with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force in Washington, on April 5, 2020. (Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” Monday morning that the nation is currently running about 1.5 million to 2 million tests per week. But, “we really need to get up to, at least, you know, maybe two times that, three times that.”

Administration officials have insisted that the United States currently has enough testing capacity to safely implement “Phase One” of an economic reopening plan released last week to begin a gradual return to normalcy. And they have argued that states could be running twice as many tests as they are now if only they were using all the equipment they already have access to.

“So we really gotta help them to get to it. And that’s what’s being done right now, to try to make the connectivity between what’s unused capacity as well as tests within that capacity to help them,” Fauci said. “We gotta keep going. It’s gotta be done together really in a partnership.”

Trump said that, so far, 4.18 million people have been tested for COVID-19 in America and called on governors to work together to enhance response efforts.

“We’re encouraging them to share their successful strategies with other governors. Some of the governors are doing a better job than others. The robust capacity that we’ve brought online will empower governors to deploy sophisticated strategies so they can safely reopen their states,” Trump said.

The administration is engaged in a delicate balancing act between protecting people from the CCP virus and restarting economic activity so Americans have the means to keep a roof over their heads and get enough to eat.

Spurred by growing lockdown fatigue, more people took to the streets over the weekend calling for a faster end to the lockdowns.

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A man wears a mask and construction gear during a protest against the state’s extended stay-at-home order at the Capitol building in Olympia, Washington, on April 19, 2020. (REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson)

The virus has spread aggressively across the world, with a Johns Hopkins tally on Monday showing more than 2.4 million infections globally and a death toll of 166,235. The number of infections in the United States has hit 760,570, according to Johns Hopkins, with the number of virus-related deaths standing at 40,690.

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