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Vice President Pence Reveals States Have Enough Tests to Begin “Phase 1” of Economic Recovery Plan


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As unemployment spikes and economic uncertainty begins to spread, the Trump administration is taking proactive steps to protect American lives and livelihoods.

To ensure that Americans can safely return to work, having enough COVID-19 testing kits is critical to minimize the possibility of secondary outbreaks.

Robust testing ensures that anyone with the virus knows that they are contagious and can therefore self-quarantine.

Vice President Mike Pence has revealed that every state now has enough testing kits thanks to the federal government.

While there were a few hiccups at the very beginning of the process, the country was able to ramp-up the production of testing kits and make sure that the states received them as quickly as possible.

Aside from the current testing kits, Pence also revealed that a new blood-based test that can detect anti-bodies could potentially be ready in as little as a few days, reports say.

With enough testing kits in the hands of each state, states will be able to safely follow Phase 1 of the White House’s economic reopening plan.

More details on this breaking news from Mike Pence below:

Senate Democrats attempted to raise questions over Vice President Pence's announcement, but the facts speak for themselves.

Over 1 million Americans are being tested weekly right now. 

The Washington Examiner reports that Pence and the task force have the support of the best scientists and health experts in the country, including Dr. Fauci:

Vice President Mike Pence said Friday that states have enough test for the coronavirus to reopen their economies, pushing back against criticisms that the administration has failed to sufficiently ramp up testing.

"Our best scientists and health experts assess that today we have a sufficient amount of testing to meet the requirements of a phase one reopening if state governors should choose to do that," Pence said during Friday's White House press briefing.

The Trump administration has been criticized for making too few diagnostic tests available to the public and is working to bring more online. Ohio-based manufacturer Abbott released a test that produces results in 15 minutes. The Food and Drug Administration has also approved three antibody tests that can detect if a person has ever had the coronavirus and is now immune to it.

Still, only about 3.5 million people in the United States have been tested for the coronavirus, about 1% of the population, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Members of Congress, led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, are seeking to add $30 billion in funding for testing in the next economic relief bill.

"President Trump needs to get testing under control NOW," Schumer said Friday.

Pence said that the federal government will work with states to boost testing capabilities, pledging that the administration will "work every single day to make sure that states and communities have the testing they need to reopen at the time and manner of their choosing."

Top government infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci added that states are equipped to carry out requisite testing to begin slowly reopening their states.

"If these things are done correctly... we will have and there will be enough tests to allow us to take this country safely through phase one," Fauci said.

Throughout the entire pandemic, Democrats have appeared to undermine the president's ability to fight against the crisis.

Rather than supporting the adminsitration's moves, they've criticized from the sidelines without providing any solutions of their own.

The only apparent solution from Democrats is to keep everyone locked in their homes, which would only result in never before seen economic suffering and job loss.

President Trump, however, recognizes that it is possible take the virus seriously while also protecting the American economy.

The current issues don't have to do with testing kits themselves, but with specific components.

For example, there's a nationwide shortage of swabs, but productions is ramping up as quickly as possible to ensure that everyone who needs a test can get a test.

Similar to the fears of ventilator shortages, many observers predict that the fears of testing shortages may be overblown.

The current shortage of swabs should be solved by the time Phase 1 is scheduled to begin.

An additional 5 million swabs are expected by the end of the month, and capacity will increase in May, when Phase 1 will begin unfolding.

The Hill reports that Fauci supports Pence's announcement:

Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, gave some backup to Pence's argument.

He acknowledged a "problem" with the initial rollout of the tests, but said problems are being fixed.

"Many of those have been already corrected and other[s] of those will be corrected," Fauci said Friday. "We will have and there will be enough tests to allow us to take this country through phase one."

Phase one of the government's reopening plan would still call on "vulnerable individuals" to shelter in place, and for people to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people unless they can socially distance. Bars would remain closed, though gyms could open with proper procedures.

The pushback from the White House comes as governors, lawmakers and many outside health experts have been clamoring for more testing.

Former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Tom Frieden said earlier Friday that at least three times as many tests are needed to safely reopen the economy.

Labs say they are facing persistent shortages of supplies for testing, such as swabs, meaning that not all testing machines can be used to their full capacity.

“The real bottleneck has been actually these swabs,” Michael Mina, a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said earlier on Friday. “It’s just astounding these are still causing the problems. People are clamoring to get any line on a swab manufacturer.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said Thursday the country and his state, which was one of the first to be hard-hit by the pandemic, are "1,000 miles away" from having enough tests.

The White House acknowledged the problems with supplies like swabs.

Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), said the administration would be securing 5 million more swabs by the end of April, and more in May.

Coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx said she is leading a team out of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to call labs and find out what supplies they need.

"They're calling lab by lab to find out what are the technical difficulties to bring up all the platforms that exist in your lab. Is it swabs? Is it transport media?" she said.

Giroir estimated that the country needs to do 4.5 million tests per month in phase one, which the country is on track for given its current rate of 1 million to 1.2 million tests weekly.

Throughout the entire crisis, the Trump administration has made data-driven decisions and relied on experts for their expertise and insight.

Rather than attempting to politicize the pandemic, both Pence and Trump have made decisions that protect the lives and livelihoods of every single American citizen.

Meanwhile, it appears that Democrats would rather leave Americans locked up in their homes with no end-date in sight.



 

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