December 6, 2020

Trump passes responsibility for testing to states to avoid blame, say Trump officials

The Washington Post reports that administration officials claim Trump passed the responsibility for coronavirus testing to states to "shield himself from blame."

The Washington Post reports that “several current and former senior administration officials” say Trump is directing states to manage their own testing for coronavirus to avoid blame for outbreaks.

Trump released federal guidelines on Thursday to reopen the American economy, which “shifts accountability to governors and mayors.” Also, the plan has no national testing strategy, critical to assure Americans they are safe to go back to work.

“Trump’s the-buck-stops-with-the-states posture is largely designed to shield himself from blame should there be new outbreaks after states reopen or for other problems, according to several current and former senior administration officials involved in the response who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations,” reports the Post.

Matthew Miller, a former director of the Justice Department’s public affairs office, called the report “the most disturbing story” he had read in a while on Twitter. (see below)

Experts recommend testing 330 million people a day, but only 3.3 million have been tested in total so far. Nevertheless, Trump claimed the U.S. has “the most advanced and robust testing anywhere in the world.”

In his daily briefings, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been calling for the federal government to act because of the scale of testing needed across the country.

“It is the single best tool to inform decisions and to calibrate all of this,” New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) said Thursday of testing. “This has to be figured out. I understand that this is a problematic area and the federal government’s not eager to get involved in testing. I get that, but the plain reality here is we have to do it in partnership with the federal government.”

On Friday, Cuomo issued an Executive Order to direct New York’s laboratories to coordinate with the State Department of Health on testing. However, without a national testing strategy, state laboratories are scrambling to get help from the federal government for supplies.

“Federal officials are still getting requests from private laboratories for help obtaining the necessary reagents to conduct tests, a person involved in the task force said,” reported the Post.

According to the report, the point person for coordinating with industry on testing is Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Meanwhile, Trump has thus far refused to enact the Defense Production Act to direct test manufacturers to increase production to keep up with the skyrocketing demand.

In early March, Trump stated, “anybody that needs a” test to detect the new coronavirus “gets a test.” Now, he’s passing the buck to states in a possible attempt to shield himself.



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