Across the country, coronavirus testing shortages are complicating governors’ efforts to create plans to reopen state economies. Trump has refused to implement  full-scale national mobilization on testing, leaving governors to fend for themselves and bid against other states as they try to secure medical equipment they need.


Public health experts have advised that widespread testing and tracing will be critical to any plan to reopen state economies safely. Maine is still struggling to conduct urgent testing on people with symptoms and does not have the capacity to implement the extensive testing that public health experts have advised. 


Despite these nationwide shortages, Trump continues to mislead about testing, falsely claiming this week, “We are doing more testing I think than probably any of the governors even want.” Does Senator Collins still think he did “a lot that was right in the beginning” of his coronavirus response?


“While every other member of Maine’s Congressional delegation has demanded transparency on testing, Senator Collins has stayed silent,” said Maine Democratic Party Chair Kathleen Marra. “Her refusal to hold Trump accountable and her defense of his dysfunctional response to this crisis is unacceptable.”


The New York Times: Testing Remains Scarce as Governors Weigh Reopening States


By Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Farah Stockman and Sharon LaFraniere

April 25, 2020


Key Points:


  • About a week after the first report of a Covid-19 case at a meatpacking plant in southwest Kansas in early April, the state’s governor, Laura Kelly, issued a pointed warning to President Trump: Without test kits to separate the well from the sick, a fast-moving outbreak could idle facilities that produce roughly one-quarter of the nation’s meat supply.


  • Within three days, 80 blue-and-white boxes of test kits and testing machines arrived, and two Black Hawk helicopters from the Kansas National Guard whisked them to the afflicted region. As the test results came in last week, the costs of the delay became clear: 250 workers in six plants were already infected.


  • In Albany, Ga., a hot spot for the disease, a hospital finally figured out a way to run its own coronavirus tests, rather than relying on limited state capacity or outsourcing the work to slow-moving private labs. But it still struggles to run as many tests as it would like because of a shortage of components.


  • In Ohio, a research institution in Columbus is teaming up with a plastics company to churn out nasal swabs on 3-D printers for use in the state. But when Mysheika W. Roberts, the city’s health commissioner, offered test kits to local health centers, she learned they lacked the protective gear they needed to put them to use.


  • As governors decide about opening their economies, they continue to be hampered by a shortage of testing capacity, leaving them without the information that public health experts say is needed to track outbreaks and contain them. And while the United States has made strides over the past month in expanding testing, its capacity is nowhere near the level Mr. Trump suggests it is.


  • On top of all that, the administration has resisted a full-scale national mobilization, instead intervening to allocate scarce equipment on an ad hoc basis and leaving production bottlenecks and shortages largely to market forces. Governors, public health officials and hospital executives say they are still operating in a kind of Wild West economy that has left them scrambling — and competing with one another — to procure the equipment and other materials they need.


  • But as states begin to reopen, the nation is far from being able to conduct the kind of widespread surveillance testing that health experts say would be optimal. Many states are still struggling to conduct much more urgent testing of patients with symptoms, or those in high-risk groups. Few have the money or the personnel to also check on the presence of the virus in the general population or to reach out to people who have been in contact with those confirmed to be ill.


  • The three-phase White House plan, Opening Up America Again, does not detail a national testing strategy or provide numerical benchmarks for how much testing is necessary. It says states should have a “downward trajectory of positive tests” or a “downward trajectory of documented cases” over two weeks, while conducting robust contact tracing and “sentinel surveillance” testing of asymptomatic people in vulnerable populations, such as nursing homes.


  • Mr. Trump continues to insist that the current approach is adequate. “America’s testing capability and capacity is fully sufficient to begin opening up the country, totally,” he said at one point this month. At another, he said, “We are doing more testing I think than probably any of the governors even want.” 


  • That is not true.