What happened to at-home testing? Here are all the promises Trump made — but failed to keep — at his March 13 coronavirus press conference

What happened to at-home testing? Here are all the promises Trump made — but failed to keep — at his March 13 coronavirus press conference
President Donald J. Trump addresses his remarks during the coronavirus update briefing Wednesday, April 8, 2020, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)

Although President Donald Trump downplayed the severity of coronavirus in January and February, his tone was dramatically shifting on March 13 — when the president officially declared the pandemic to be a national emergency in the United States. Gone were the days when Trump dismissed the pandemic as a “hoax.” But National Public Radio (NPR) is reporting that one month after that declaration, many of Trump’s March 13 promises remain unfulfilled.

“One month ago today, President Trump declared a national emergency,” NPR explains. “In a Rose Garden address, flanked by leaders from giant retailers and medical testing companies, he promised a mobilization of public and private resources to attack the coronavirus….. But few of those promises have come to pass.”

Those promises, according to NPR, range from “drive-through testing” and “home testing” to “federal agency promises.”

On March 13, Trump featured Bruce Greenstein, executive vice president of the LHC Group, and promised that LHC would play a prominent role in home testing for coronavirus. But NPR notes that it “called more than 20 LHC sites in 12 states, and none of them are doing in-home testing one month following the Rose Garden address. Employees at the LHC sites said they lacked both testing kits and the training to administer kits.”

Trump, NPR notes, promised that Google would play a key role in drive-through testing. But according to NPR, Verily (a sister company of Google) “has rolled out six testing sites primarily in coordination with the California state government — not the federal government — and is currently only available to residents of five counties in California.”

Discussing Trump’s “federal agency promises,” NPR notes, “The president said he would waive license requirements so that doctors could practice in states with the greatest needs, for example. But medical licensing is a state issue, and the president does not have the authority to waive it.

When it comes to coronavirus testing, NPR reports, the U.S. still “lags behind in sample collection kits: the swabs and tubes that frontline medical workers send to labs.”

“Private companies did part of what was promised in the Rose Garden address: there is more testing today than a month ago,” NPR reports. “But by over-promising what private sector companies would do — and in some cases, without adequate consultation about what they could do — the White House left other pledges that day unfulfilled.”

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