According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, COVID-19 tests could be available to everyone who needs one in the very near future.
The face of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday that he expects to reach that target by late May or early June, the Washington Examiner reported. His prediction could prove significant, since public officials across the country have cited widespread testing as a precondition for reopening the economy.
“Everyone who needs a test”
Fauci, who serves as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, shares concerns with many governors regarding the possibility of opening states too quickly, especially in the absence of universal testing and contact tracing for those exposed to the virus. He recently asserted that the capacity for such tests needs to be doubled before it is safe to end ongoing lockdowns, as the New York Post reported.
Though President Trump has previously affirmed that testing levels are sufficient and that any gaps should be the states’ responsibility to fill, he revealed a “blueprint” on Monday that would combine state and federal efforts to expand the capacity for coronavirus testing, NBC News noted.
Fauci, for his part, praised the partnership as an important step toward establishing testing for any American who “needs” it, stressing that this does not include those who simply want to be tested.
“Everyone who needs a test, according to the way we’re approaching the identification, isolation, contact tracing, keeping the country safe and healthy, hopefully, we should see that as we get toward the end of May, the beginning of June,” Fauci explained Tuesday, according to the Examiner. “That’s what I’m being told by the people who are responsible for the testing.”
“Going strongly in the right direction”
According to The Hill, Fauci did acknowledge that he is a “skeptic,” though his most recent message appears to contradict more pessimistic forecasts by some of the president’s most fervent critics who say he has not done enough to expand testing.
“I believe, Jake, we are going strongly in the right direction,” Fauci told Tapper.
The update about testing comes amid signs that efforts to flatten the coronavirus curve are working. Vice President Mike Pence said recently that the pandemic could be largely “behind us” by June, and Dr. Deborah Birx signaled that a steep decline in hospitalizations and deaths could come by the end of May.
Second wave is “inevitable”
Despite new tones of optimism, Fauci and others have continued to urge a gradual and cautious relaxation of lockdown orders currently in effect. Further complicating such decisions, he has recently described a second wave of the virus as “inevitable” after previously saying that it was only a possibility.
“If by that time we have put into place all of the countermeasures that you need to address this, we should do reasonably well,” Fauci explained Wednesday, according to The Hill. “If we don’t do that successfully, we could be in for a bad fall and a bad winter.”
Still, all in all, this sounds pretty positive. What’s with the media’s gloom and doom?