Mar 12, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Top health official says U.S. coronavirus testing system is not "geared to what we need"

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified at a House hearing Thursday that the current system of making coronavirus testing available in the U.S. is not set up in a way that we need it to be.

Why it matters: Fauci's testimony directly contradicted comments made by President Trump, who told reporters in the Oval Office Thursday that "testing has been going very smooth."

  • Less than 10,000 Americans have been tested, according to lawmakers, far fewer than in other countries like South Korea — which is testing 20,000 people per day.
  • Trump's comments have set off frustration among both Republicans and Democrats in Congress, who heard testimony from Fauci and other health officials on Thursday.

When asked if there is one person in charge who can ensure that people who need the tests are receiving them, Fauci said:

"The system is not really geared to what we need right now, what you are asking for. That is a failing. Let's admit it. The fact is, the way the system was set up, the public health component that Dr. Redfield was talking about, was a system where you put it out there in the public and a physician asks for it and you get it. The idea of anybody getting it easily the way people in other countries are doing it — we're not set up for that. Do I think we should be? Yes. But we're not."

Editor’s note: This post has been clarified to add context to Fauci's comments.

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