WATCH: VP Mike Pence Dodges Questions About Impact of Trump Tweets, Number of Americans Tested for Coronavirus
Vice President Mike Pence notably did not specifically answer when pressed during a White House briefing to say exactly how many Americans have been tested for coronavirus and to address the impact of President Donald Trump’s tweets on the response effort.
At the Trump administration’s daily press conference on coronavirus outbreak, the final question came from Playboy White House correspondent Brian Karem, an aggressive skeptic of the president, who asked about the impact of Trump’s Twitter tirades against alleged “fake news” coverage of the outbreak by the media and the opposition party.
“Earlier you just said you’d tell us how many Americans had already been tested” Karem began. “And, as a follow-up to a question that was asked earlier, are the president’s tweets hurting your efforts at all? Because he’s accused the Democrats and some members of the press of making more of this than he says it is and he’s making lighter of it than you all have, and does his tweets hurt you and can you please tell us how many Americans have been tested?”
“I’m happy to do that,” Pence said, before not doing that and instead heaping general praise upon Trump. “I heard it again today from 47 governors — [Maryland] Governor Larry Hogan joined me in the situation room. He’s the chairman of the National Governor’s Association. I think every American would be inspired if you could see the way under the president’s leadership and with cooperation with governors in every state and every territory we literally are working seamlessly on behalf of the health of the American people.”
Pence then ceded the lectern to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, who, he said, would address “the number of tests that have been done.” But Azar did not actually answer that question either.
“So we’ve told you, we’ll tell you what we know and what we don’t know, OK?” Azar began, addressing Karem. “So there are different types of tests that get sent out. The CDC’s test that the CDC is sending out, that’s enough to test 75,000 people that was sent out last week. Those go to public health labs. About 80 labs in the United States, one in each state, at least. Those report results back in to the CDC because they’re part of the public health network.”
But Azar noticeably did not provide a number of those results reported back to the CDC.
“The larger quantity of tests that shipped, about 900,000 of the tests that shipped by this weekend and then, so many of the remainder of that 2.1 million total tests go to hospitals, private labs, others for testing,” Azar continued. “They don’t currently have report to us that they’ve conducted a test or what the result of that test is. The CDC is actively working right now to build that IT connectivity with them so we can gather that information. So, right now I could not give you a number of how many Americans have received a test because many would have received a test through hospitals or non-public health labs.”
The vice president then stepped in and wrapped up the press conference.
Watch the video above, via CNN.
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