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President Trump listens to Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir at a press briefing on March 21. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Assistant Secretary of Health Adm. Brett Giroir, the official leading the federal government's coronavirus testing response, told Time Tuesday “there is absolutely no way" the U.S. will be able to conduct 5 million coronavirus tests per day, contradicting comments President Trump made at a press briefing later in the day.

Why it matters: A Harvard University paper assessed that the U.S. would need to conduct 5 million tests daily by early June, and 20 million a day by late July, to reopen safely. But Giroir called the number “an Ivory Tower, unreasonable benchmark.” He said modeling projections did not call for it, nor could technology support it.

  • While the number of daily tests has increased recently to nearly 250,000, health experts say it's still not nearly enough to safely lift stay-at-home measures.
  • The most tests the U.S. has run in a day is 314,182 on April 22, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

What they're saying: Giroir told Time “there is absolutely no way on Earth, on this planet or any other planet, that we can do 20 million tests a day, or even five million tests a day.”

  • When asked at a press briefing later Tuesday if the U.S. could hit 5 million tests a day, Trump responded: “We’re going to be there very soon.”

Where it stands: Giroir said the U.S. has conducted 5.7 million tests total since the start of the year. He plans to do 8 million tests monthly by next month.

  • Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday that every American who needs a coronavirus test should be able to get one by the end of May or beginning of June.

Go deeper

Updated Dec 8, 2020 - Health

The states where face coverings are mandatory

Data: Compiled by Axios; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Wyoming on Monday became the latest state to implement a mask mandate to fight COVID-19, amid a steep spike in cases across the country.

The big picture: States are reintroducing mitigation efforts like closing businesses and advising people to stay home as the U.S. averages the most daily cases of any point in the pandemic.

Updated 20 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: First known U.S. case of Omicron variant identified in California — America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron — CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers.
  2. Politics: Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come — Meta removes accounts linked to COVID disinformation effort by China.
  3. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine.
  4. World: Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people — Omicron variant detected in more countriesWHO advises people 60 or older to postpone travel due to Omicron
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."