During a White House briefing Wednesday, President Donald Trump dismissed the notion of testing every single American for the coronavirus when questioned by reporters. Granted, he hadn’t been asked whether he’d support testing every American.
“Dr. Ashish Jha, who is the head of Harvard’s Global Health Institute, says that the key to getting this economy open as soon as possible is to test everyone who needs testing so we can quarantine all infected individuals and allow everyone else to go back to work immediately. Would you subscribe to that strategy?” one reporter asked.
Listen to the back-and-forth exchange below (disable your adblocker if the video doesn’t appear):
The president’s key coronavirus adviser, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, appears to agree with this strategy of testing only those in “need” and has argued that not everybody “needs testing.”
“Not everybody in the United States should take a test,” he said two weeks ago. “I mean I have no symptoms, there’s no reason for me to take a test. If I’m in a situation where I’m at a higher risk, I will take a test.”
Dr. Fauci (who is 79 years old himself) – “Not everybody in the United States should take a test.” pic.twitter.com/cmhfeU1LUX
— Zach Parkinson (@AZachParkinson) March 16, 2020
He repeated these remarks at a briefing a couple of days later.
“Not every single person in the U.S. needs to get tested,” he said. “When you go in and get tested, you are consuming personal protective equipment, masks and gowns — those are high priority for the health care workers who are taking care of people who have coronavirus disease.”
Perhaps because of how the reporter framed the question, it appears the president believed he was being asked at Wednesday’s briefing whether every single person in America needs to be tested.
As such, when asked about endorsing Jha’s strategy of testing “everyone who needs testing,” he promptly replied, “No, but we have tested more than everybody.”
This prompted the reporter to ask, “If not, how many deaths are acceptable?”
While the reporter’s first question was legitimate, this question instead seemed like a snarky, underhanded and nasty attack. Not once did the president suggest that he doesn’t support universal testing because lives don’t matter to him.
“How many? None! How deaths are acceptable to me? None, OK? None. If that’s your question,” he replied before explaining why he opposes testing everybody.
“We have tested, by far, more than anybody,” he said. “We’re testing more than anybody right now. There’s nobody even close. And our tests are the best tests. They’re the most accurate tests. But if you’re saying we’re going to test 350 million people … I disagree with it.”
He’s not alone. Physicians have warned that testing everybody just isn’t realistic given a current lack of resources, including legitimate (not fake) testing kits.
“If we had all the resources in the world and could wave a magic wand, we would be happy to test these people, but they’re not there, so I’m afraid we’re having to prioritize,” Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, reportedly said Monday to CNN.
“Our community needs to remember that this is a pandemic, not a hurricane or flood. There is not enough supply across the system, so we need to prioritize testing for those who are at higher risk. “ https://t.co/VhjeFRe91B
— Harris County Public Health #PublicHealth (@hcphtx) March 25, 2020
Plus, the president continued Wednesday, some states are faring better than others, suggesting a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t valid (it rarely is).
“We can go to certain states. I could name them now, but I’m not going to do that. But we can go to certain states right now. They have virtually no problem or a very small problem. We don’t have to test the entire state in the Middle West or wherever they may be. We don’t have to test the entire state. I think it’s ridiculous,” he said.
“We don’t have to do it. A lot of those states could go back right now, and they probably will, because at some point in the not too distant future, certain states are going to come off the rolls. Maybe New York can’t and maybe California can’t. Maybe the state of Washington can’t.”
He was right. Reason magazine notes that different localities have different needs based on their medical infrastructure, their population size and whether they’re urban, suburban or rural.
One-size-fits-all, top-down policies in response to COVID-19 are poor matches for communities of widely varying density, character, risks, and concerns https://t.co/6rU7JE8Uhl
— reason (@reason) March 25, 2020
Suffice it to say, a farmer living in rural America faces far less risk of contracting the coronavirus than a city slicker living in a crowded apartment building.
Of course, members of the left have ignored these observations and taken instead to calling for a one-size-fits-all national lockdown that would be both counterproductive and also economically devastating.
The US will have 15K+ new cases TODAY. RETWEET if you want a #NationalLockdown.
— Seth Abramson (@🏠) (@SethAbramson) March 22, 2020
The only way to KEEP AMERICA SAFE is to institute a NATIONAL LOCKDOWN.
You must stop encouraging people to go back to work & feeding false hope that it will done by Easter.
This pandemic is already overwhelming our healthcare system & we are nowhere near the worst of it.
— Jesse Damiani (@JesseDamiani) March 25, 2020
I urge our officials to implement a national and state #lockdown ASAP. We have thousands of lives on the line. Time is running out. Let’s save them.
Our lives and the lives from our loved ones don’t have a price @realDonaldTrump @GovAbbott #LifeIsPriceless
— Gaby Natale (@GabyNatale) March 24, 2020
— André Picard (@picardonhealth) March 25, 2020
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