Come hell or high water, Donald Trump wants America open for business by May 1. Under any normal president, that goal would have been set in consultation with public health experts and the administration would be laying the groundwork to safely and slowly return the country to some sense of normalcy.
But not in Trump's administration. Consequently, the White House is presently engaged in a scheme to bamboozle Americans into believing it's perfectly safe to get back out there and, yes, risk their lives. Key to achieving that safety is testing, testing, testing, because without testing, medical professionals can't identify sick individuals, isolate them, and figure out who else may have been exposed to the virus (i.e., contact tracing). But since the Trump administration has entirely failed for over two months to make adequate testing available, plan B is tricking people into thinking the testing levels have been adequate.
That's where the new White House press secretary comes in (yes, another one, don't get too attached). On Thursday morning, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany took a turn at gaslighting America about testing, claiming that Trump's administration had "quickly developed the most expansive and accurate testing system in the world."
"As a result," she tweeted, "the United States has now conducted more than 3.3 million tests, FAR MORE than any other country in the world."
This is a Trump favorite that's partially true while obscuring the reality that national testing levels aren't even close to where they need to be in order for the country to reopen with any level of safety. While it's accurate that coronavirus testing has taken place in the United States, that doesn't mean the prevalence of testing is anywhere near adequate to protect the population. After all, the U.S. also has substantially more confirmed cases and more COVID-19-related deaths than any other country in the world, too.
Nationally, NPR reports that some 120,000 COVID-19 tests are being conducted every day, but experts say that number has to go way up before reopening the country can be done safely. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former head of the Food and Drug Administration, estimates that conducting as many as several million tests every week may be necessary.
In any case, whatever safe actually means, we're not even close to being there in terms of testing. And that doesn't even begin to address the infrastructure necessary for contact tracing, isolation, and other measures needed to keep the public safe and healthy.