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Vice President Pence swore that coronavirus testing in the U.S. would increase dramatically, allowing the country to progress under the Trump administration’s plan to gradually reopen the economy as the president worked with governors to bring American life back to normal.
President Trump announced on Thursday the White House plan to ultimately reduce social displacement and reopen the country’s economy in stages – depending on location – in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“We believe that the tests we have today … across the country, once we have activated all the laboratories capable of testing coronavirus, are sufficient for a US state to go to phase one “Pence told Fox News Sunday. ” the guidelines set out recommendations for three reopening phases, as well as criteria that states must meet before even starting with the first phase.
The vice president said that 150,000 tests are currently performed each day and that the number can be doubled if the governors activate all the laboratories of their state which can carry out tests. Some health experts have recommended 500,000 tests a day, but Pence believes that performing “about 300,000” tests a day and monitoring vulnerable populations will be effective.
Trump has clashed with state governors in recent weeks due to disagreements over when they will be ready to begin reopening. This led Trump to tweet calls to “free” certain states. Asked about the language, Pence said that “the American people know that no one in America wants to reopen this country more than President Donald Trump.”
Pence gave assurances that Trump was working with the governors and reiterated that there would be enough tests to get the country going.
“Under the leadership of President Trump, we will continue to work fully with the country’s governors and health officials to increase and increase the number of tests and we are confident that we can have a sufficient number of tests to be able to reopen the ‘America, “Pence said,” not just in phase one, but to continue in the weeks and months to come to expand the tests to give the American people the confidence and the tools to return to work. “
Pence then turned to the ongoing negotiations between Republican and Democratic lawmakers on increasing funding for the payment protection program, which provides forgivable loans to small businesses to keep paying employees and keeping up with spending. Democrats opposed a simple injection of an additional $ 250 billion into the program, calling for more comprehensive legislation that also addresses other concerns.
“Negotiations are continuing. We are very close,” said Pence. President of the Chamber Nancy Pelosi also said on Sunday that the two parties were on the verge of concluding an agreement, which would come “soon”.
The vice president also raised suspicion that China was not being honest about the start of the epidemic in Wuhan, and said the administration would take a closer look.
“It is clear to us that not only did the World Health Organization not communicate to America and the world what was happening in China, but also that China was not as open as it should have been with America or the world about what was going on, “said Pence.
“The president made it clear that he was not happy. We will do appropriate research on this at the right time. “
Andrew News’s Andrew O’Reilly, Chad Pergram, Corbett Riner, Brooke Singman and The Associated Press of Fox News contributed to this report.