Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday said he believed it was possible to double coronavirus testing capacity with assistance from the nation’s governors — who continue to claim they don’t have what they need to do so.
On “Fox News Sunday,“ Pence said the administration expects that 150,000 tests per day can be increased to 300,000 per day. To get there, he said, it would entail "working with governors to activate all of the laboratories in their states around the country that can do coronavirus testing."
The Trump administration has put the onus on governors to implement measures to begin reopening the economy, inflaming tensions between the White House and state leaders. Trump on Friday said on Twitter that it was time to “LIBERATE” Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia, as protests began to break out against stay-at-home orders imposed by the nation’s governors.
"In the president’s tweets and public statements, I can assure you he’s going to continue to encourage governors to find ways to safely and responsibly let America go back to work," Pence said Sunday.
Governors are complaining that it’s unrealistic to expect states to carry the responsibility of ramping up testing.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said on CNN’s "State of the Union" that it was "delusional" for Trump and Pence to say the United States has enough testing for states to begin opening back up.
"We’ve been fighting for testing," he said. "It’s not a straight forward test. We don’t even have enough swabs, believe it or not."
A bipartisan set of governors echoed Northam’s warning Sunday.
"To try to push this off, to say that the governors have plenty of testing and they should just get to work on testing — somehow we aren’t doing our job — is just absolutely false," said Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said on CNN.
"Every governor,” Hogan said, “in America has been pushing and fighting and clawing to get more tests, not only from the federal government but from every private lab in America and from all across the world, and we continue to do so."
Ohio’s Mike DeWine, a Republican, said there were technical issues.
“Our big problem today,“ he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press, “I could probably double, maybe even triple testing in Ohio virtually overnight, if the FDA would prioritize companies that are putting a slightly different formula together for the extraction reagent kit. And that’s, it’s — if the FDA would do that — we have a shortage, worldwide shortage of some of the materials that go into this. So, we really need help — if anybody in the FDA is watching, this would really take our, take our capacity up.”
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, made similar remarks on the same program.
“We have the capacity to double or triple the number of tests that we are doing but we need some of these supplies. The reagents and the swabs are absolutely essential. You can’t process all of these tests if you can’t take the sample and protect it and move forward though testing. And so while our capabilities are there, these important supplies are not,” she told host Chuck Todd.
Pence said the administration was willing to provide further support to governors.
On NBC’s "Meet the Press" he said the administration will "fully partner with states around the country to increase the supply, to make sure that they have the reagents and the test kits necessary to perform those tests."