The Trump administration on Monday said that it would provide states with the supplies they need to test their populations for COVID-19.
During the past several weeks, the federal government has had ongoing conversations with states about their testing goals for May, according to senior administration officials. Now they're promising to supply states with swabs, chemical reagents and other supplies they need to collect specimen samples for testing. All states will receive enough supplies to collect samples from 2% of their population, even if they're testing goals were less ambitious.
"I think we're in a place now where everyone has what they need," said a senior administration official during a call with reporters.
The mix of public health, regional and commercial labs processing the tests will vary by state.
The Trump administration has emphasized the role of states in combating the virus, tagging their approach as "locally executed, state-managed and federally supported." It has wanted states to take the lead.
But a senior administration official was agitated that governors are "taking credit" for recent testing increases, especially those that "have been a little hostile to the administration."
"It's not a miracle," he said. "It's that we've held their hand, and we've helped them get the supplies they need, and we've explained to them how to do it."
Many governors have complained that the Trump administration has hung them out to dry during the coronavirus outbreak, leaving it up to states to fend for themselves. States have had trouble securing the supplies they need, often bidding against each other to get them and driving up prices.
States will also receive $11 billion in funding from the CARES Act to help them ramp up their testing efforts.
The Trump administration has been under pressure for weeks to increase COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, which experts say is critical to taming the virus and rebooting the nation's sputtering economy. Senior administration officials touted that more than 300,000 people have been tested each day for the past few days and that about 9 million tests have been carried out since the outbreak began.
But experts think that the U.S. will need to test between 500,000 and 35 million people per day before life and the economy can reach a new normal. A Harvard study put that figure at 5 to 20 million tests daily.