From the WebMD Archives

May 12, 2020 - In the first coronavirus press briefing led by President Trump this month, the president touted his administration’s record on testing and announced new funding for states to support more testing.

Anyone who wants to get tested for COVID-19 should be able to get a test, Trump said. At the same time, he added, not everyone should.

“If people want to get tested, they get tested,” he said during the White House press briefing. “But for the most part, they shouldn’t want to get tested.”

Some health officials and governors have disputed whether testing is available for every American.

And Modern Healthcare reported Monday that the demand for testing still outpaces supply, and testing sites are scrambling to increase their capacity as test developers create new types of tests.

According to the COVID Tracking Project, about 8.4 million Americans, or 2.5% of the total U.S. population, were tested for COVID-19 as of May 9.

The states set testing goals for May, which totaled about 13 million tests for the month, said Brad Smith, director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. The federal government is coordinating the corresponding swabs, transport media, reagents and extraction kits to go with the tests. About 1,000 more testing sites should open by June 1, he added.

Brett Giroir, MD, the assistant secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, however, made the distinction that tests are available for everyone who “needs” a test.

“Right now in America, anybody who needs a test can get a test,” said during the briefing.

That includes people with symptoms and those who were in close contact with a positive case and need to be traced. In addition, CDC officials are beginning to track asymptomatic spread in vulnerable communities.

In terms of reopening the country, Giroir recommended social distancing, face masks and hand hygiene for employees to return to work.

During his remarks Trump also emphasized a need to test vulnerable groups, including people in nursing homes, prisons and underserved racial and ethnic communities.

Also on Monday, the administration planned to issue a directive that will require most White House officials to wear masks or face coverings on complex grounds, according to the Washington Post. However, the directive likely won’t apply to Trump or Vice President Mike Pence, the newspaper reported.

The directive comes after Katie Miller, Pence’s press secretary, tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday. Pence planned to work from the White House on Monday, a spokesperson told the Associated Press. When asked during the briefing whether he and Pence should separate as a precautionary measure, Trump emphasized that Pence tested negative and then paused.

“He comes into contact with a lot of people,” he said. “I haven’t seen him since then [Friday], but I would say that he and I will be talking about that.”

WebMD Health News Brief


C-SPAN, “President Trump Holds Briefing on Coronavirus Testing.”

Modern Healthcare, “COVID-19 testing problems started early, U.S. still playing from behind.”

Washington Post, “Most White House officials will be asked to wear masks, but directive will not apply to Trump.”

Associated Press, “Pence spends weekend at home after exposure to infected aide.”

The COVID Tracking Project, Most Recent Data

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.