President Trump declared a national state of emergency at a Friday press conference.)
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Topline: President Trump said that he does not take responsibility for the slow, botched rollout of testing for the disease during a Friday press conference to announce a national state of emergency over the coronavirus pandemic, despite an earlier report that said Trump didn’t push more aggressively for tests because it might hurt his chances for reelection.
- “No, I don’t take responsibility at all,” Trump said about his administration’s lag in rolling out coronavirus tests, adding, “We were given a set of circumstances…it wasn’t meant for this kind of an event with the kind of numbers that we’re talking about.”
- NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross on Thursday reported, however, that despite urging from Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Trump did not push for more testing because it might lead to higher numbers of confirmed cases.
- “The president had made clear—the lower the numbers on coronavirus, the better for the president, the better for his potential reelection this fall,” Politico reporter Dan Diamond told NPR.
- Earlier on Friday the Food and Drug Administration issued emergency approval for a new coronavirus test to be run by Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche’s automated testing machines, which are in 100 American labs.
- It was reported March 2 that the Centers for Disease Control fumbled its initial testing rollout, first by not using the one created by the World Health Organization, and then sending faulty CDC-made ones to labs, delaying results.
Crucial quote: Trump also said Friday he would “most likely” get tested for the virus after being asked by reporters. Photos circulated of the president with a Brazilian official who tested positive for the disease, raising questions as to whether Trump might have contracted it. The White House had earlier denied that Trump would be tested.
Key background: There are over 1,800 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S., but health researchers are concerned that the true scale of the outbreak could be much greater because of initial limited access to tests for the disease. Faulty test kits and a lack in early testing is believed to have contributed to the further spread of Covid-19, epidemiologists at Johns Hopkins university wrote in the Journal of the American Medicine Association this week. Vice President Mike Pence, head of the administration’s Covid-19 task force, has pledged to make more test kits available, while the FDA signed off on new tests developed by the CDC in February.