Special Report

Shutdown: The Coronavirus

Trump disagrees with Fauci over country’s testing capacity

President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence, listen as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony S. Fauci takes questions from the press during a coronavirus update briefing Tuesday, March 31, 2020, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

President Donald Trump today said he disagrees with Anthony Fauci’s comments that he’s “not overly confident” about the country’s testing capacity to effectively contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

“No, I don’t agree with him on that. No, I think we’re doing a great job on testing,” Trump said during a White House briefing. “If he said that, I don’t agree with him.” 

Trump said that he thinks the U.S. has done “a great job” testing for Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, and claimed that the nation is more advanced than other counties. 

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview with TIME published earlier today that the U.S. needs to “significantly ramp up” the number of tests and the capacity to perform them.

“I am not overly confident right now at all that we have what it takes to do that,” said Fauci, member of the White House coronavirus task force. “We are doing better, and I think we are going to get there, but we are not there yet,” he continued.”

Fauci was not present at today’s briefing. 

The doctor’s statement contradicts the White House’s assurances on the country’s testing capabilities. The U.S. has performed over 4.6 million tests so far, lagging behind Italy in per capita tests conducted. 

Fauci’s comments come as governors begin to relax containment measures to reopen their state’s economies despite warnings of a resulting surge in Covid-19 cases. In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp plans to restart the economy before the state’s shelter-in-place order is lifted on April 30 even though Trump yesterday said he “very strongly” disagreed with the move.  

This evening, Trump reiterated he’s “not happy” with Kemp’s decision to reopen some nonessential businesses, such as fitness centers, hair and nail salons, and barbers. 

“I want the states to open, more than he does, much more than he does,” Trump said. “But I didn’t like to see spas at this early stage, nor did the doctors.”

The president said he may extend social distancing guidelines past May 1, but assured he thinks the worst will be over by early summer.  

Bill Bryan, an undersecretary at the Homeland Security Department, said at the press briefing that the virus doesn’t last long when exposed to sunlight, according to experiments with coronavirus samples. He said solar light appears to have a powerful effect on killing the virus. 

So far, the U.S. has confirmed more than 866,600 Covid-19 cases and over 47,800 deaths. In New York City, the epicenter of the outbreak in the country, 16,388 people have died from the virus. 

More than 21 percent of people tested in New York City for coronavirus antibodies this week were found to have them, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said earlier today. 

The results are part of a statewide effort to test residents for antibodies, which indicate they have had the virus and recovered from it. 

The state tested 3,000 random people across 19 counties, and nearly 14 percent of the results came back positive, according to preliminary data. 

The numbers indicate that the actual number of coronavirus cases in the state may be much higher than the confirmed 260,000. If the preliminary results hold true, as many as 2.7 million New Yorkers, with more than 1.7 million people in the city,  may have been infected with the virus. It also means the mortality rate could be lower than previously thought. 

“What we found so far is that the statewide number is 13.9 percent tested positive for having the antibodies,” Cuomo said during a press briefing. “They were infected three weeks ago, four weeks ago, five weeks ago, six weeks ago, but they had the virus, they developed the antibodies and they are now recovered.”

Before Cuomo’s briefing, Dr. Demetre C. Daskalakis, New York City’s top official for disease control, warned against using antibody tests to make decisions about social distancing and reopening the economy. The World Health Organization earlier this week cautioned that there’s no evidence to suggest that antibody tests can show that a person that had the virus is immune to reinfection.  

During his presentation, Cuomo slammed Republican Sen. Mitch McConnel for suggesting that states hit hard by the virus should file for bankruptcy instead of seeking financial aid from the federal government. 

“This is one of the really dumb ideas of all time,” said Cuomo, a Democrat.

Cuomo has criticized Congress and the federal government for not providing enough funding for states to cover the costs of battling the coronavirus.

The House of Representatives today passed a $484 billion coronavirus rescue package to aid small businesses and fund hospitals and testing. 

The bill aims to replenish a small business loan program as unemployment soars during the crisis. The package allocates $321 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, $60 billion in loans for small businesses, $75 billion in relief for hospitals and $25 billion for coronavirus testing. 

Trump said he will sign the bill.

 


Tags


Other Stories in Special Report: Shutdown: The Coronavirus

A dictatorship called COVID-19

Alpha Kamara May 28, 2020

During pandemic, Rio de Janeiro residents fear police

Marina Guimaraes May 27, 2020

Recovering from drugs during a pandemic

Kyla Milberger May 26, 2020

  Covid-19 takes away the communal joy at Eid-al-Fitr celebration

Narkwor Kwablaa May 25, 2020

Beloved old school game sees boom in numbers during coronavirus quarantine

Michael Yang May 15, 2020

Coronavirus leaves the fate of some beloved New York events uncertain

Emily Glass May 15, 2020

South Africa’s lockdown exposes inequalities

Kathleen Taylor May 14, 2020

Churchgoers find spiritual growth through virtual services 

Harrison Tsui May 14, 2020

” I’m working with COVID patients tonight”

Margaret Guzman May 14, 2020

Singles connect on Tinder to fight quarantine blues 

Yaroslava Bondar May 14, 2020

Jewish traditions during a pandemic

Sydney Fishman May 13, 2020

The Bible and Coronavirus

Jonathan Sarabia May 13, 2020

Doctor uses social media to give advice and hope

Sope Aluko May 12, 2020

First Sandy, Now COVID: Lower East Side Activists Grapple With Construction for Climate Project

Izzie Ramirez May 12, 2020

Dating during a pandemic

Bessie Liu May 12, 2020

The last reponders

Shiyu Xu May 11, 2020

When the pandemic hits a shelter for abused boys 

Amanda Perez Pintado May 11, 2020

Portugal contains the coronavirus despite Spain’s woes

Catarina Lamelas Moura May 11, 2020

Warm weather brings crowds to Prospect Park

Bessie Liu May 11, 2020

New York coronavirus numbers continue to fall

Jonathan Sarabia May 10, 2020

Living through the pandemic while a loved one is behind bars

Amanda Perez Pintado May 10, 2020

Pandemic ends all high school senior year traditions

Jonathan Sarabia May 10, 2020

Coronavirus might have caused the death of many children who were misdiagnosed 

Ximena Del Cerro May 9, 2020

Farmers destroy staggering amounts of food even as food lines grow

Karen Camela Watson May 9, 2020

Coronavirus pandemic threatens border towns in Mexico

Sydney Fishman and Ximena Del Cerro May 9, 2020

Pence’s press secretary tests positive for Covid-19

Shiyu Xu May 8, 2020

During pandemic NYC tenants in limbo

John DiLillo May 8, 2020

Llamas could be coronavirus heroes

Catarina Lamelas Moura May 8, 2020

Lawmakers, Legal Experts Clash Over Much Needed Business Interruption Insurance Coverage for Small Businesses

James Duffy May 8, 2020

Rent relief in NY, JetBlue’s flyover and Trump’s valet tests positive for coronavirus in today’s news

Amanda Perez Pintado May 7, 2020

Coronavirus tears through the Navajo Nation 

Amanda Perez Pintado May 7, 2020

In Singapore, spaces close, but restaurants open

Yifan Yu May 6, 2020

Press secretary calls Fauci testifying before congress “publicity stunt”

Kathleen Taylor May 6, 2020

Harry Potter and the Magical Malady of the Movies

Ahad Sanwari May 6, 2020

Trump speaks to human loss, Cuomo lashes out at President’s comments

Catarina Lamelas Moura May 5, 2020

PPE in the city

Narkwor Kwabla May 5, 2020

Boring Politics is Good Politics – Especially in a Pandemic

Serafina Smith May 5, 2020

Stuck: Life under quarantine in Rio de Janeiro

Marina Guimaraes May 5, 2020

New York’s Emptiness

Maria Abreu May 5, 2020

In an Airbnb Room During Lockdown in Jamaica, Queens

Dayo Paul May 4, 2020

What Temporary Means: Portraits of family at home

Guillermo Manning May 4, 2020

Stockholm Stays Open

Tatiana Kireeva May 4, 2020

NYC now producing its own coronavirus test kits

Maureen Mullarkey May 3, 2020

Miss you, mom: Spending Ramadan together through a screen

Maznah Shehzad May 3, 2020

Life in front of a screen

Patricio Zenklussen May 3, 2020

Coronavirus and the Shincheonji

Bessie Liu May 3, 2020

It’s The Little Things

Sope Aluko May 3, 2020

Days In, Days Out: A doctor’s life during Covid-19

Elsa Benamouzig May 2, 2020

Contactless: Food Delivery amid COVID-19

Keighton Li May 2, 2020

Hasidic South Williamsburg Resists the New Reality

Leo Schwartz May 2, 2020