Admiral Brett Giroir, assistant HHS secretary, was grilled on COVID-19 testing delays amid surges of coronavirus cases across the country during an interview on CNN Sunday.
Late last month, the Trump administration moved to scale back a mandate on who insurers are required to cover COVID-19 tests for in a little-noticed guidance sheet released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Despite how the President continues to baselessly blame the rise of coronavirus cases on increased testing, Republicans such as former acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) have recently conceded that “there’s a need for faster” COVID-19 testing. Amid the ongoing surge of coronavirus cases nationwide, the backlog of testing results continues to worsen as wait times have extended to days or weeks.
When pressed about Trump’s assertion in March that anyone who wants a test can get a test, Giroir said that although that’s true now, he agreed that the administration needs to prioritize testing.
After Giroir said that he’s “highly confident” that the turnaround for testing results will decrease this week, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked whether the Trump administration has invoke the Defense Production Act to address testing delays and why “there seems to be this reluctance to push the President to do what he needs to do to get the testing up to speed.”
Tapper hammered on, saying that he wonders if Giroir and other administration officials are afraid to push Trump on testing delays because of fears of upsetting him.
Giroir denied the notion by arguing that “everyone of the administration understands the importance of testing.”
“Nobody in the task force is afraid to bring up anything to the Vice President or the President,” Giroir said. “Every time I’ve met with the President, he’s been listening to all the data, he assesses that, he understands it.”
Giroir added that he meets with Vice President Mike Pence “almost every single day” before reiterating that “no one is trying to stop testing in this country.”
“No one has ever told me to do that,” Giroir said. “We want more, we want better, we want quicker.”
Last month, TPM first reported that the federal government was planning to roll back its support of testing sites in five states, just days after Trump bragged about doing so in front of supporters at his Tulsa campaign rally.
Watch Giroir’s remarks below:
Admiral Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for HHS, is pressed on COVID-19 testing delays: "DPA isn't a magic tool" pic.twitter.com/CvIl2w9uNJ
— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) July 26, 2020