Donald Trump has flipped from saying the federal government will lead on coronavirus testing to now placing responsibility on the states.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said on Wednesday that states cannot do the sort of massive testing needed to reopen businesses on their own and that "we need the federal government" to play a key role in the process.
The day before, during his daily coronavirus press conference, Donald Trump had put the onus for testing on the states. "We've always wanted the states to do the testing," Trump said. Those comments directly contradicted earlier statements from both Trump and members of his administration that the federal government would lead in rolling out tests to the states in partnership with private businesses.
From an April 15 press conference:
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO: So, the more testing, the more open the economy. But there's not enough national capacity to do this.
I've been speaking to governors across the country. Every governor is now in the same situation. I was speaking with Gov. Pritzker of Illinois: He has some companies that do this testing in his state, but everyone is in the same position.
And we have to be clear on this, who does what between the federal government and the state government. The states cannot develop national testing. There's no simple answer to it. It's basically controlled by private sector companies who have been doing it at a reduced volume, because that was the world — you didn't need such a high level of tests. So, the private sector companies only developed to the capacity that the market demanded. This is an entirely new market.
And then when you talk to the private sector companies, which I have, they'll say, "I can't increase my volume. I can't get enough swabs, I can't get enough vials, I don't have enough machinery to manufacture it or test it." They need chemical agents that do — that are part of the test. Many of these chemical agents aren't even manufactured in the United States, so there's an international supply chain.
All this to say it is very hard to bring this to scale quickly, and we need the federal government to be part of this.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.