“Ultimately, we’re doing more testing I think than probably any of the governors even want,” President Trump said Tuesday.
Many of the 16 governors who have said they lack testing supplies have not disputed they have ample testing capacity to start to reopen, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other hindrances. Some, like New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D), have said his state needs to double existing testing, while others like Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) have said his state needs to quintuple existing testing.
Among the testing supplies governors have said they are lacking are swabs and reagents. Some governors have called for the federal government to acquire and distribute testing supplies to the states amid a global shortage. On Sunday, President Trump said he was “preparing to use the Defense Production Act to increase swab production in one U.S. facility by over 20 million additional swabs per month,” and on Monday Trump tweeted states were “playing a very dangerous political game” by suggesting there was a shortage of testing supplies.
The United States has completed roughly 120,000 to 160,000 tests per day over the past two weeks, according to the COVID Tracking Project. Some experts estimate the United States needs to at least triple its daily completed tests before it can safely reopen. For weeks, completed tests have lagged well behind reported testing availability, according to a Washington Post analysis.
“There needs to be more testing infrastructure, more tests kits, more capacity to test,” Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) said Friday. “And I don’t think you’re going to find a governor in the United States who feels differently about that.”
“We’re nowhere near where we need to be on testing,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) told CNBC on Friday, citing a shortage of testing supplies.
“We have the capacity to double or triple the number of tests that we are doing, but we need some of these supplies,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) said Sunday. “The reagents and the swabs are absolutely essential. … And so while our capabilities are there, these important supplies are not.”
Late Monday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) praised the Trump administration for giving his state access to federal labs there, which Hogan said he had asked for from the federal government for more than a month. The lab announcement came hours after Hogan said Maryland had purchased 500,000 tests from South Korea.
Late Tuesday, Cuomo said Trump had committed to helping states get more testing supplies, but he did not know whether Trump would use the Defense Production Act to obtain them.
“We did not talk through how he’s going to do his end of the operation,” Cuomo told reporters.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) has repeatedly criticized Trump for refusing to use the Defense Production Act widely to produce more supplies. During an interview with The Post on Tuesday, Pritzker said while Illinois has the capacity to perform coronavirus tests, the state still lacks the supplies to perform them.
“In order to do what he’s suggesting, you’d have to run these machines 24 hours a day and seven days a week,” Pritzker said. “In order to run machines 24-7, you need three shifts of lab technicians on these machines. So the idea that we could actually do that without the supplies, without enough lab technicians, you know, is kind of crazy.”