On Tuesday, Donald Trump asserted that the United States will be able to perform 5 million coronavirus tests a day “very soon.” However, on Wednesday, the president walked back that statement, according to CBS News.
During a press conference, a reporter asked Trump whether the U.S. would soon have the capacity to perform 5 million coronavirus tests per day. Initially, he didn’t answer the question. When the reporter followed up, asking the president to clarify, he responded that he believed the U.S. would be able to reach that number in the near future.
“Oh, well, we’re going to be there very soon. If you look at the numbers, it could be that we’re getting very close. I mean, I don’t have the exact numbers.”
REPORTER: Experts say the US needs to do 5 million tests per day to safely reopen. Why doesn't your testing plan go that far?
TRUMP: "We inherited a very broken test." (The coronavirus didn't even exist until nearly 3 years into his term as president) pic.twitter.com/XjlIxbmMjg
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 28, 2020
However, on Wednesday, CBS News reported that Trump claimed he had never made such a statement. He said that his answer during Tuesday’s press briefing was the result of a “media trap.” As further alleged by Vox, this isn’t the first time the president has made supposedly misleading statements about the United States’ testing capacity.
The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer organization that is compiling and presenting data about the coronavirus pandemic, has found that the U.S. is currently performing about 220,000 tests per day.
Vox wrote that many public health experts have agreed that testing is crucial to managing coronavirus outbreaks. Many of them estimate that in order to control the pandemic, the U.S. needs to be performing at least 500,000 tests per day. Others say that in order to truly contain the spread of the virus and safely reopen the economy, this figure needs to be at 5 million daily tests.
So far, the U.S. has performed a total of 5 million tests overall, and coronavirus testing director Admiral Brett Giroir indicated on Tuesday that the country wouldn’t be able to perform anywhere near the 5-million-per-day figure any time soon, CBS News reported. Giroir went on to say that at this point, 5 million tests per day is an “unreasonable benchmark.” He stressed that even if the nation were able to achieve that level, it may not be enough to “protect public health.”
Vox also pointed out that the testing plan that Trump revealed on Monday would only increase testing capacity to 260,000 tests per day. That number is just over half of what most experts agree the figure needs to be, and nowhere near the aforementioned 5 million mark on the higher end.