At Monday’s White House coronavirus briefing, Vice President Mike Pence said there are enough tests available for states ready to enter “Phase 1” of the White House’s three-step reopening plan.
In the White House’s testing guidelines to states released on Monday, the Trump administration says that the federal government is the “last resort” for states to acquire testing.
At Monday’s briefing, President Donald Trump and Pence touted the government’s partnerships with private organizations, as retailers and private labs try to bolster the country’s testing capability.
Even with the work of private organizations, the scope of the testing could still need to be ramped up to reach demand.
Currently, the White House says that there are 80 testing sites run by retailers being operated in 24 states, with the goal of reaching 100 in 33 states by Friday.
CVS said on Monday that is has now implement COVID-19 tests at stores in five states, with most sites able to provide 1,000 drive thru tests.
Walgreens said that it expects to be able to test up to 50,000 Americans a week at locations in 49 states and Puerto Rico in the near future. Presently, Walgreens is providing testing at 18 sites, with the hopes to have 23 testing locations opened in 15 states by the end of the week.
LabCorp said it is working with Walgreens, and hopes to have 200,000 tests per day ready by mid-May.
Walmart currently has 20 testing sites in 12 states, conducting 13,000 tests to date. Walmart hopes to open 25 additional sites this week, and have up to 100 testing sites by the end of the month.
Kroger has conducted 8,000 tests at 30 locations in six states. The grocery chain hopes to have completed 100,000 tests by the end of May.
The testing hodge podge is far below some estimates needed to confidently reopen the economy, experts warn.
According to a Harvard study, nearly 5 million tests a day would need to be administered by the end of June to deliver a “safe social reopening.”
Although only an average of 150,000 to 250,000 coronavirus tests are administered daily throughout the U.S., the White House remains confident that testing is available. Pence said the issue is not the supply of tests, but getting those tests administered.
Pence suggested on Monday that it estimates that 500,000 tests per day are needed to meet demand, far below Harvard’s projection.
“Since we met with governors today, I sensed the enthusiasm, for the way testing is scaling across the country,” Pence said.
“We are north of 5 million tests done now. It is remarkable to think of the pace of acceleration,” Pence added.