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Alex Azar: Notion We’re Going To Test 330 Million Americans Every Morning Is Not Realistic Nor Serious

‘Even at the White House not everybody is tested every day’
By Grabien Staff


TAPPER: “Let’s talk about surveillance testing and contact tracing, because the White House has been able to keep its workers and you and President Trump and others who go to the White House safe because you are conducting at the White House regular testing, surveillance testing, contact tracing. That would be a great way to keep, as you know, a meat packing home or retirement plant safe, regular testing, contact tracing. But when will the rest of us get that same kind of protection that the White House gets? Because I don’t think there is that level of testing at the most vulnerable places like you’re talking about, prisons, meat packing plants, nursing homes.”

AZAR: “ So that’s actually part of the ongoing plans for the country that you have targeted. But the notion that you would test 330 million Americans every morning to say whether they have covid is not realistic nor seriously treated by public health experts. Even at the White House not everybody is tested every day. It’s only if you will have contact with the president or vice president that day. I think you’ll agree, Jake, those two roles are unique. In our meat packing plants and nursing homes, we are testing, we’re connecting them with testing at labcorp and quest, as part of our plan to surge in and contain outbreaks when we have syndromic cases. We’ll be progressively moving from mitigation back to containment, outbreak, circle, contain, and control situations like that.”

TAPPER: “I don’t think anybody expects that we’re all going to be given the same health benefits as the president of the United States, the commander in chief, of course. But I do think, if we’re trying to get our economy open, let’s take schools, as an example. I have two children. If my two children went back to school in September and every student, every teacher, every person who worked at that school were tested before they could go in, and then the ones who tested positive would be isolated, and then a test like that happened, I don’t know, every month, I would feel a lot more secure about sending my kids to school if there was that kind of aggressive testing for that school. Now, I’m not saying every American should be tested every morning, of course not. But every health official I’ve talked to, including you, says there needs to be more aggressive surveillance testing. When are we going to get up to the level where people could have some peace of mind, I know I can go back to work because we tested everybody before we went back to work and we isolated people and we do this every month now or something like that? When will we be able to do widespread broad based testing and contact tracing for every American?”

AZAR: “We have had 10 million tests done. Public health experts say as a gauge of whether you have adequate testing for surveillance purposes you want to be seeing a positivity rate of 10% or below. Nationwide we’re at 9%. 38 of our states are at that 10% or below goal. The others are progressing towards that. We’ll have 12.9 million tests administered as the projection just in the coming weeks, doing 300,000 tests a day. And we’re going to be bringing online something, Jake, that I think is quite exciting, which is going to be these antigen tests which are rapid tests, antigen tests, the look would be something like a pregnancy test, what’s called a lateral flow device. We’re working with manufacturing on improving those. Those are very high volume, point of care tests. That will be part of the recipe for the future. For those kinds of situations like you rightly say as a parent, those concerns for our nursing homes, our prisons, our meat packing facilities, to aid us with broad surveillance and testing. President Trump has, over the last couple of months delivered just a historic transformation of testing that’s now become one of the models in the world with the most tests administered of any country in the world and we’re really on the right track here for the future.”

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