April 17, 2020/Press

Trump Rushes to Reopen Economy as Experts Warn of Disaster

RALEIGH – Health officials continue to warn of the dire consequences of reopening the U.S. economy too early while President Trump announced guidelines for states to begin the process.

In North Carolina, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed 5,900 on Friday morning, with the state’s death toll rising to 166. Officials at Fort Bragg confirmed that a civilian employee and a contractor had both died due to complications from the coronavirus, the first deaths from the outbreak at the military base.

Public health experts continue to insist that PPE and testing shortages continue to be plague the administration’s fumbled response to the crisis.

  • NBC News cites a number of experts who say the proportion of the U.S. population that has been tested for coronavirus — roughly 1% — is not nearly enough to begin loosening restrictions:

“We are an order of magnitude off right now from where we should be … Testing is the perpetual problem here.” — Dylan George, infectious disease modeling expert who advised the Obama administration in combating the Ebola epidemic

“We’re pretty much still at the same place we were. Ancillary supplies continue to be a problem, and we can’t get enough of them.” — Erick Blank, Chief Program Officer of the Association of Public Health Laboratories 

“Hospitals and health systems continue to lack critical testing supplies, including swabs, transport media and reagents, which is the most frequent reason contributing to testing machines not being able to be used to their full capacity.” — Spokesperson for the American Hospital Association.

  • According to CNBC, experts are warning that the economy cannot be reopened on a large scale “unless there is a huge increase in the relatively small number of tests currently being done”:

“To avoid a second wave of viral spread you have to do what South Korea and other countries, including Germany, have done. You have to have testing in place, and aggressive testing … This is a Herculean task. I don’t know how it’s going to be solved in the immediate future, but it needs to be.” — Dr. Tom Moore, infectious disease specialist

  • Vox reports that Trump’s claim that testing is “at an all-time high,” is “false, based on the actual numbers.”:

“According to the Covid Tracking Project, the US has averaged fewer than 150,000 tests each day so far in the week of April 13, including at both public and commercial labs. That’s an improvement from the early days of March, when the country reported new tests in the dozens and later the hundreds. But it’s not an increase from more recent weeks: In the week of April 6, the country also averaged fewer than 150,000 tests a day. What the country needs to properly do testing, according to experts, is at least 500,000 tests a day.” 

  • Axios also reported on the plateau in testing across the U.S.:

“The number of coronavirus diagnostic tests being completed every day has plateaued over the last week — at a number that falls far short of what experts say is needed … Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said he thinks we need to be doing 500,000 tests a day for the foreseeable future.”