President Trump and the Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] announced Monday a crucial new tool that will play a massive roll in the battle against COVID-19. The president unveiled a new rapid test kit for the virus that will provide results within five minutes.
Speaking from the White House’s Rose Garden, President Trump also announced that 1 million Americans had been tested, saying that reaching 1 million tests is “a milestone in our war against the coronavirus.”
The United States has been trying for weeks to ramp up coronavirus testing after a series of problems with the initial government-designed test and widespread criticism over the U.S. lagging behind countries like South Korea in testing. The nation’s daily testing capacity has been increasing as more diagnostic makers and large laboratories have developed tests.
During the press conference, the president opened a box from Abbott Laboratories, displaying the new rapid test for the press to see.
Abbott’s testing cartridge fits into the company’s portable ID NOW device, which is used at hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices. The company said it would launch the test next week to select health-care facilities delivering urgent care.
Trump also reiterated the need to practice socially distancing on Monday as experts warned that the peak number deaths from the virus is likely to occur sometime next month.
“By very vigorously socially distancing, we can save more than one million American lives,” he said. “The sacrifices we make will determine the fate of this virus and the fate of our victory.”
Trump noted that his administration’s guidelines – which he has extended through April – will not change much in substance though they “may be toughened up a bit,” while adding that the restrictions on travel to foreign countries will also remain.
Things got heated When CNN’s Jim Acosta asked the President a loaded question regarding his downplaying of the severity of the virus before the outbreak struck the U.S. The president responded beautifully, saying he didn’t want to cause a panic in the country, and that he was very proud of the work done by everyone on the White House coronavirus task force.
Also during the press conference, Trump also announced that Ford is repurposing an auto parts factory west of Detroit to start building simple ventilators to treat coronavirus patients.
The automaker says that starting the week of April 20, it expects to produce 50,000 ventilators in 100 days. The plant in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan, would have the ability to build 30,000 per month after that. Ford also is working with GE Healthcare to double production of a more sophisticated ventilator at a factory in Madison, Wisconsin.
“Please come help us in New York now,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said as the state’s death toll climbed by more than 250 in a single day for a total of more than 1,200 victims, most of them in the city. He said an additional 1 million health-care workers would be needed to tackle the crisis.
Dr. Anthony Fauci on Monday warned that smaller cities are likely about to see cases “take off” the way they have in New York City.
Trump’s press conference comes just a day after he announced his decision to extend social distancing through the end of April.
“The economy is number two, my focus is saving people’s lives,” he said.