Apr 19, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Governors contradict Trump's claims that states have testing capacity to reopen

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that President Trump is "delusional" for suggesting there's enough coronavirus testing capacity for states to reopen, echoing the concerns of a number of governors who have called for a national testing strategy.

Why it matters: Public health experts say that testing must be doubled or even tripled from current levels in order to allow for a safe, partial reopening of the U.S. economy. Trump is pushing to have some states partially reopen by May 1.

Yes, but: While the number of tests conducted in the U.S. has ramped up significantly since the start of the outbreak, the figures have plateaued over the last week and fall far short of what experts say is needed.

  • Governors say there are shortages of key testing ingredients like swabs and reagents that are preventing their states from meeting demand.
  • Some labs also have excess testing capacity, but aren’t being sent samples from the providers collecting them due to poor coordination.

What they're saying: Trump tweeted on Sunday, "Just like I was right on Ventilators (our Country is now the “King of Ventilators”, other countries are calling asking for help-we will!), I am right on testing. Governors must be able to step up and get the job done. We will be with you ALL THE WAY!"

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said on CNN: "I've talked to governors on both sides of the aisle nearly every single day ... to try to push this off to say that the governors have plenty of testing and they should just get to work on testing, somehow we aren't doing our job, is just absolutely false."

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) said on CNN that "it would really be incredibly helpful if the federal government would use the Defense Production Act to start making these swabs and reagents so we can improve testing."

  • "At the end of the day, you know, we governors are doing the best we can with what we've got," she added.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he hopes the FDA might approve a slightly different testing formula to allow companies to ramp up testing, since there's a "worldwide shortage of some of the materials that go into this."

  • "I could probably double, maybe even triple testing in Ohio virtually overnight if the FDA would prioritize companies that are putting a slightly different formula together for the extraction reagent kit," he said. 

Go deeper

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

About 40.7 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the coronavirus pandemic began, including 2.1 million more claims filed from last week.

Why it matters: Even as states reopen their economies, Americans are still seeking relief. Revised data out Thursday also showed U.S. economy shrunk by an annualized 5% in the first quarter — worse than the initially estimate of 4.8%.

Fauci: Data is "really quite evident" against hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus

Anthony Fauci told CNN Wednesday that the scientific data "is really quite evident now about the lack of efficacy" of hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment.

Driving the news: The comments came in response to news that France on Wednesday banned the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat the virus, after a large retrospective study in The Lancet found an increased risk of heart problems and death among coronavirus patients who took the anti-malarial drug.

D.C. chef: Restaurants need more time to spend PPP money

Photo: Axios screenshot

Restaurants need more time to spend money they've received from the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program to ensure that the loans are forgivable, Kwame Onwuachi, owner and head chef of Kith and Kin, a D.C.-based restaurant, said during an Axios digital event.

Why it matters: Onwuachi said small restaurants are reaching the end of the eight-week time limit to spend the money. If they do not spend the money, the loans may not be forgiven.