MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — After weeks of states struggling to ramp up testing for COVID-19, President Donald Trump said it will no longer be a problem.
Outside the White House Monday, he announced guidelines for expanded testing and tracing. Officials in the president’s coronavirus task force say next month the country will be capable of testing eight million people.
Across the United States, more than 5.4 million people have been tested for COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
“We’ve launched the most ambitious testing effort likewise on earth,” Trump said.
The effort is through a partnership with private companies that manufacture the materials needed for testing and major pharmacies now better prepared to administer them, like Walgreens and CVS. Larry Merlo, CEO of CVS Health, was one of many CEOs on hand for the press conference.
“Beginning in May, we will install testing capabilities in up to 1,000 CVS pharmacies. We’ll be using our drive-thrus and our parking lots with swab testing,” Merlo said.
President Trump also unveiled guidelines for states to help states which include how to handle increased testing, creating timely monitoring systems to identify new cases and clusters, and a rapid response program to isolate those who are sick and trace who they’ve contacted.
Earlier this month, the president said individual states need to step up testing efforts, but Monday’s announcement shows the federal government is stepping up.
“We will be able to supply every state with the supplies and the tests they need that will dramatically increase the number of tests we’ve done,” task force member Admiral Brett Giroir said.
Last week, dozens of new testing locations opened in Minnesota through a collaboration led by the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic, now allowing people showing symptoms of the virus to get tested.
“Not unexpectedly, we’re working through some logistical issues as we’re trying to get all the systems collaborating together,” Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcom said.
The issues include matching the proper supplies with the different testing platforms, which is why some healthcare facilities are taking matters into their own hands.
“Mayo specifically has begun manufacturing some swabs, but they’re manufacturing swabs for their testing platforms,” Malcom said.
Increasing the number of tests is just one hurdle for the country to overcome. The question now is what it means for states pondering the idea of reopening their economy, if they haven’t started doing so already.
“I’m confident that we have enough testing to begin reopening, and the reopening process. We want to get the country open,” Trump said.
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