Throughout the Coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., testing for the disease, which could be crucial to slowing its spread, lagged significantly and dangerously. In the time that South Korea, for instance, tested more than a quarter of a million patients or so, the official U.S. test count only reached around 25,000. Now, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the response inside the Trump administration to these issues has proven so chaotic that some officials only learned of testing shortages from the news. One might hope that the information would at least make it up the chain of command — but it didn’t; it came from the media.
The publication explains:
‘Some White House aides learned of complaints about the availability of testing from the media, not the public-health officials in their own government.’
Throughout the outbreak, President Donald Trump and some of those closest to him have consistently praised the U.S. testing regimen. At one point not too long ago, Trump claimed that anyone who wanted a Coronavirus test could get one — but that’s not true. Stories have proliferated on social media and elsewhere of major delays in obtaining a Coronavirus test, in large part because of restrictions on who can get them because of the history of shortages.
Just this week, Ohio authorities — who’ve consistently taken the outbreak quite seriously, with prompt public school closures and more — announced that testing would be even further limited. MSNBC correspondent Garrett Haake shared:
‘Due to a shortage of tests, Ohio’s @GovMikeDeWine says coronavirus testing will be limited to healthcare workers and those ALREADY HOSPITALIZED. Lack of tests around the country remains a huge story. We are flying blind, still.’
Due to a shortage of tests, Ohio’s @GovMikeDeWine says coronavirus testing will be limited to healthcare workers and those ALREADY HOSPITALIZED.
Lack of tests around the country remains a huge story. We are flying blind, still.
— Garrett Haake (@GarrettHaake) March 18, 2020
Overall, the U.S. is almost at 10,000 confirmed cases, and at least 155 deaths from the Coronavirus have been tallied in the country, but the actual number could be significantly higher because of the failure to see large-scale testing proliferation.
Testing was majorly held up for weeks because of issues like CDC guidelines that “only allowed testing of people who had traveled to China or who had had contact with those travelers,” which left those with possibly community spread cases of the disease without a chance at testing until the end of February, when the guidelines were lifted, Buzzfeed explains. The tests that the CDC did provide proved largely faulty in the initial weeks of the U.S. outbreak, but only around that same time — the end of February — did the CDC grant permission for lower-level public health offices to make their own test.
Meanwhile, Trump is attempting to maintain an about-face about the whole situation — and talking like he can say Make America Great Again five times in front of a mirror and make the virus disappear, or something. He tweeted:
‘I want all Americans to understand: we are at war with an invisible enemy, but that enemy is no match for the spirit and resolve of the American people. It cannot overcome the dedication of our doctors, nurses, and scientists — and it cannot beat the LOVE, PATRIOTISM, and DETERMINATION of our citizens. Strong and United, WE WILL PREVAIL!’
We don’t need patriotism. We need tests.
…It cannot overcome the dedication of our doctors, nurses, and scientists — and it cannot beat the LOVE, PATRIOTISM, and DETERMINATION of our citizens. Strong and United, WE WILL PREVAIL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2020