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White House provides governors with maps of coronavirus testing locations

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the Coronavirus Task Force briefing at the White House in Washington DC on Monday, April 20, 2020. State leaders and health experts say that the lack of tests for Covid-19 hampers the fast reopening of the country that is desired by the administration. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the Coronavirus Task Force briefing at the White House in Washington DC on Monday, April 20, 2020. State leaders and health experts say that the lack of tests for Covid-19 hampers the fast reopening of the country that is desired by the administration. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo

April 20 (UPI) -- Members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force on Monday said they have presented governors with plans to ramp up COVID-19 testing to prepare for the gradual reopening of their states following shutdowns to prevent the spread of the virus.

Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the task force, said the White House provided governors with a memorandum detailing laboratory capacity and all locations for laboratory equipment capable of conducting coronavirus tests as well as a map identifying these locations.

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Pence also said that governors were informed that federal facilities would be made available for states to conduct testing while reiterating that the White House estimates there are enough available tests for every state to begin the federal government's three-phase plan to lift coronavirus restrictions.

"We told the governors once again today that by our best estimates we have the testing capacity today for every state in America to go to phase one if they meet the other criteria of 14 days of reduced cases and sufficient hospital capacity to prepare for any eventuality that may occur," he said.

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Testing czar Adm. Bret Giroir said that only 10 percent of some coronavirus test platforms are being utilized when asked Monday about a statement he made last month promising that the United States would conduct 27 million tests by the end of March, while only 4 million people have been tested to date.

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"If the machines aren't utilizing them and they're not organized at that level, then they're not being utilized to its fullest. You would have a lot of those million tests already being done," he said.

The briefing came after Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced that the state had received 500,000 test kits from South Korea on Saturday as he attempts to increase the state's testing capabilities.

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"We've ramped up our labs, we're continuing to ramp up the lab capability," he said. "Ten thousand as a very aggressive goal ... but I think I'm going to try to blow through that and do maybe a 200 percent of what their aggressive goal was and try to get up to 20,000 tests a day."

President Donald Trump, who previously said states should seek to acquire testing materials on their own, said Hogan could have "saved a lot of money" if he had asked the federal government instead of acquiring the tests from South Korea.

"Some of the governors, like as an example, the governor from Maryland, didn't really understand the list, he didn't understand too much about what was going on. So now I think he'll be able to do that. It's pretty simple. They have termendous capacity. We hope to be able to help him out," he said.

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In addition to testing, Pence said that the government would send the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff including teams of about 10 to 12 people to help states conduct contact tracing in which they will trace and monitor the contacts of infected people to notify them of their exposure.

The CDC's website states that contact tracing will require states and other territories to establish "large cadres" of contact tracers as well as adopt and evaluate digital tools to expand their reach and efficacy.

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