Dr. Anthony Fauci. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday that “more needs to be done” to make coronavirus testing widely available across the United States, even as the Trump administration ramps up its efforts to check Americans for exposure to the illness.
“Clearly, more needs to be done, but we are rapidly getting to the point where we will have many, many tests out there available for virtually everyone,” Fauci said in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show.
The remarks from the nation’s top infectious disease expert represent an improvement in his assessment of the administration’s testing system, which he characterized during congressional testimony last week as a “failing.”
While President Donald Trump’s initial management of the pandemic has been widely condemned by state leaders and public health experts, the most criticized aspect of the administration’s early response was its inability to quickly mount a large-scale testing operation and track tests that had migrated to local health care providers.
But Trump and members of the White House coronavirus task force over the past week have touted increased levels of cooperation with the private sector that they say will make screening more accessible, while cautioning that the new wave of tests will result in an explosion of cases.
“Early on, as I’ve said, it wasn’t the way it should’ve been. But we’re really now very much in the right direction, flooding the system with it,” Fauci said Friday. “There are going to be people, for sure, who will call in and say they can’t get tested. It’s not a perfect system yet, but we’re getting there very rapidly.”
The president has largely attributed the testing deficiencies to his own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, arguing that the federal agency was unprepared to tackle an outbreak of this magnitude. He has also claimed without evidence that former President Barack Obama’s administration shares blame for the shortfall, remarking last week that “I don’t take responsibility at all.”