Announcing the distribution plan Monday afternoon in the White House rose garden, Trump said the testing effort “would allow every state to test every teacher who needs it very regularly.”
“I am pleased to announce that we are announcing our plan to distribute 150 million tests to the Abbott point of service in the coming weeks,” Trump said Monday at the Rose Garden.
Of course, many schools across the country have already been open for weeks without full access to testing amid the Trump administration’s continued efforts to reopen schools and businesses despite the ongoing pandemic.
At some point earlier in the pandemic, Trump said he told his staff to slow down testing for the coronavirus, but top federal health officials said they had not been asked to do so. .
Trump appeared to take a different approach to testing in the rose garden on Monday, saying that an increase in coronavirus testing efforts and, therefore, an increase in anticipated asymptomatic coronavirus cases among those in low-risk populations “should not cause an undue alarm ”.
“As we massively increase screening capacity, we will identify more cases in asymptomatic individuals in low risk populations. It shouldn’t cause an undue alarm, ”Trump said. “The total number of cases is not the complete metric of success. Much more informative measures are hospital capacity and death rates. As we do more tests, you will automatically have more cases. ”
About 100 million tests, the president said, “will be given to states and territories to support efforts to reopen their economies and schools immediately and (as) quickly as possible.”
And 50 million tests will go “to protect the most vulnerable communities,” including nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospice care, historically black colleges and the tribal nation’s colleges.
Admiral Brett Giroir, the Trump administration’s coronavirus testing czar, said the federal distribution plan will give governors flexibility on how they deploy testing, but offered prioritization advice, including the implementation of coronavirus screening.
“Governors have the flexibility to use these tests as they see fit, but we strongly encourage governors to use them in contexts that only need rapid low-tech point-of-service testing, such as openness and maintaining our K-12 schools, supporting critical infrastructure and first responders, responding to outbreaks specifically in certain demographics or locations, and testing or surveillance in assembly places, ”said Giroir.
Speaking with CNN’s Erin Burnett on “OutFront” later Monday, Giroir touted the test distribution as “a real step forward in our tests. ”
“It doesn’t happen overnight. It took months to plan for the rapid point-of-care BinaxNOW testing, ”he said. “The difference between August and now is just that they had to be put together. The day after the clearance was issued by the FDA, we signed the contract. It doesn’t happen overnight. That’s with weeks of planning to buy 150 million. ”
He added, “So now that the production is in place, we can start distributing to the States. This week, 6.5 million to governors to use as they see fit. Hope for schools and other critical infrastructure. ”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in the coronavirus advice in August that some people without symptoms may not need to be tested, even if they have been in close contact with someone known to have the virus. The guidelines were rescinded earlier this month to re-emphasize that anyone who has been in contact with an infected person should be tested for the coronavirus.
CNN’s Ali Zaslav, Betsy Klein, Curt Devine and Drew Griffin contributed to this report.