You know what makes sense in the middle of a pandemic we have no cure or vaccine for?
A national strategic plan to make sure testing is fast, free and available everywhere.
That’s why in the last round of coronavirus relief, Democrats required President Donald Trump to do within 30 days what any leader taking this seriously would have done months ago — provide a detailed, national plan on coronavirus testing.
Unfortunately, the plan President Trump submitted falls short of the requirements Congress set out, and far short of what’s needed to ensure we have a coordinated testing strategy as states open up.
We are nowhere close to the 900,000 tests per day — potentially much more — experts say we need to safely reopen, and it’s not clear how a plan that spends more time looking backward, rather than looking ahead in anticipation of what’s next, will get us there. This plan lacks detailed, step-by-step goals for ramping up testing production, comprehensive actions the federal government will take to ensure adequate testing supplies, including personal protective equipment, or specific steps to address disparities.
While this document provides some long overdue information on testing targets — and where the government is missing the mark — we also need clear explanations for how targets were set, how they will be met, and what will be done if they are not.
One thing is clear though: We can’t afford to keep waiting while this president’s failures destroy more American lives or livelihoods. Instead we’ve got to push him every step of the way not just on testing, but on all the nationwide challenges our federal government is uniquely positioned to solve — and must — in the coming months.
For example, we must bolster our public health capacity for efforts like contact tracing — because testing only gets us so far if we aren’t able to follow up on positive cases and take steps to prevent new outbreaks. We also can’t address the disparities in testing, treatment, and more, that have hit communities of color so hard if we don’t have comprehensive data and we don’t act in response to the information we do have.
Workers, businesses and families want reassurance that there are protective standards in place as they go back to work — whether that’s in a school, a farm field, an office, or a meat-packing plant — that make clear safety isn’t optional. It’s time for the Trump administration to do its job and put forth enforceable standards for businesses to follow to keep their employees and their communities safe.
Ultimately, to truly bring this crisis to an end, we will need a safe, effective vaccine that is free and available to everyone who needs it. We cannot afford for political interference to distract from that goal. Instead, the federal government should be doing everything it can not only to find that vaccine, but break down barriers to it — by addressing health disparities, production and distribution challenges, vaccine hesitancy and misinformation.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the White House’s ability to meet these challenges, President Trump’s inadequate testing plan is just a symptom of the larger problem. Our country isn’t just facing a historic public health crisis, but also an inexcusable and unprecedented leadership crisis. That’s why we must hold this administration’s feet to the fire.
In the coming weeks, you’re going to hear a lot of excuses from President Trump and Republicans about the ongoing fallout from this pandemic and their refusal to address it.
Don’t listen. Demand better — because you and your community deserve better. Our country deserves better. And Democrats will be right there fighting alongside you.