The head of the coronavirus testing efforts from the Trump administration said that there was absolutely no way that the U.S. could conduct 5 million tests per day, despite Trump’s claim that the country will reach those numbers very soon.
Earlier this week, Adm. Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary of Health and Human Services said that he expects the U.S. to have the capacity to conduct 2 million tests per week by the end of May.
According to a report released by a Harvard panel of experts in science, health, and economics, the U.S. needs to reach 5 million tests per day by early June in order to safely relax social distancing restrictions. The group called for the testing rate to reach 20 million per day by mid-July to avoid a future shutdown.
Giroir had an interview with Time magazine in which he called the report’s recommendations an Ivory Tower, an unreasonable benchmark.
“There is absolutely no way on Earth, on this planet or any other planet, that we can do 20 million tests a day, or even five million tests a day,’’ Giroir said. He added that the current modeling projections did not call for 5 million tests per day.
On the same day, Trump said that he was optimistic that the U.S. will reach the numbers from the Harvard report.
“We will be there very soon. If you look at the numbers, it could be that we are getting close. I don’t have the numbers right now. We will be there soon,’’ said Trump.
Trump was speaking with the reporters on Wednesday as he tried to lower his expectations for the U.S. test capacity, but still saying that the country can reach the number of 5 million tests per day.
“We will be there. But I didn’t say it,’’ said Trump.
Giroir also told Times that the states are responsible for securing tests from companies developing them for commercial use.
“It’s horribly inefficient to say that the government is going to buy all the supplies, recreate a distribution center, do 5,000 hospitals, maybe 10,000 laboratories in academic centers. What we really want to do is use the commercial supply chain,’’ said Giroir.