After weeks of promising to scale coronavirus testing in the U.S., President Trump on Monday announced that his team, in partnership with retailers, would significantly ramp up the number of tests available in the country in the coming weeks. Leaders of those companies appeared next to the president at his evening briefing, saying they would “double” and “triple” their testing capacity by May, but did not provide exact numbers or details on how they would procure those tests.
In March, the president said his son-in-law Jared Kushner would help open dozens of drive through testing sites in the parking lots of major retailers, including Walgreens, Walmart, and CVS. Since then, though, only a handful of drive-through sites have opened in retail parking lots. Administration officials previously told The Daily Beast that there has been a lag in scaling the operation because testing needed to be improved before a nationwide rollout.
Trump’s announcement comes at a critical moment when states across the country are moving to reopen portions of their economies. Worried about the administration’s guidelines for reopening the economy, officials across the country have for the past two weeks called on the federal government to help increase testing before allowing Americans to go back to work. Members of Trump’s own task force have supported those calls for action. Last week, Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the U.S. needed to do more.