Trump to hold briefing on coronavirus testing

President Trump and members of his administration will hold a press briefing to discuss testing for the novel coronavirus on Monday afternoon.

It is unclear whether there will be a specific announcement at the briefing.

Trump has vigorously defended his administration’s efforts on testing for COVID-19, though public health experts have consistently warned of the need to further scale up testing capacity in order for states to safely reopen. Trump has used the Defense Production Act to increase production of testing swabs and rolled out a blueprint on testing, though he has consistently said the states have the responsibility to ramp up their own testing.

Monday’s appearance will mark Trump’s first formal press briefing in two weeks. The president has scaled back what used to be regular briefings by the White House coronavirus task force, replacing them with more structured events spotlighting efforts to reopen the country’s economy amid the pandemic.

The press conference also comes as the White House seeks to contain its own outbreak of the coronavirus after two aides tested positive for the virus, including the press secretary for Vice President Pence. A spokesman for Pence said Sunday that the vice president, who is tested regularly, would follow the advice of White House doctors and not self-quarantine.

At least three members of the White House coronavirus task force — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn and Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert — are all self-quarantining to some degree, meaning their attendance is not expected.

It is not clear which administration officials will attend briefing in the White House Rose Garden at 4 p.m. The press conference is not listed on Pence’s schedule and therefore he is also not expected to attend.

Trump said last Friday that the United States had conducted a total of 8.5 million tests since the start of the outbreak. The U.S. is currently conducting roughly 250,000 tests per day and officials have projected that 8 million tests will be performed in the month of May.

Fauci, who has said the U.S. ultimately needs roughly 3 million tests per week, told CNN at the end of April that he hoped anyone who needed a test would be able to get one by the end of May or early June.

Researchers at Harvard have recommended the U.S. perform 500,000 tests per day in order to safely relax coronavirus restrictions across the country and allow Americans to begin to return to normal life.

— This report was updated at 9:44 a.m.

Tags Anthony Fauci Coronavirus Coronavirus testing Donald Trump Mike Pence testing

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