“That is simply inexcusable at this point in the pandemic,” Mulvaney said.
Mulvaney’s anecdote comes as the Trump administration — and especially President Donald Trump — have touted the ramped-up testing capacity in the country since serious missteps early on hamstrung testing operations.
In an interview Friday with Telemundo’s José Díaz-Balart, the president declared that “our testing is far superior to anybody,” and just days earlier, he had proclaimed “the U.S. is, by far, No. 1 in testing” in the world.
And the White House initially tried to dismiss a new surge in cases throughout the South and West over the past month by attributing the new crush of cases to increased testing availability. But local leaders in areas where the new outbreaks are cropping up have raised concerns about the need for better testing, and the White House was forced to reverse course on a plan to wind down federal support for testing sites in Texas.
On Sunday, the administration’s testing czar, Adm. Brett Giroir, acknowledged that commercial labs, which he said conduct half of the nation’s testing apart from point-of-care tests, were experiencing delays in test results.
“We need to decrease the time to turn around those results, and we have a number of efforts,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
In a press briefing Monday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany brushed aside Mulvaney’s concerns, noting that the U.S. had conducted more than 40 million tests thus far and asserting that “we lead the world in testing,” while emphasizing that testing capability has improved significantly since the pandemic first erupted in the spring.
“So leading the world in testing, I would say that means we are doing a pretty good job,” McEnany said.
The op-ed from Mulvaney, who now serves as the administration’s special envoy for Northern Ireland, was centered on his suggestions for lawmakers as Congress works to pass a fourth stimulus package later this month.
“Any stimulus should be directed at the root cause of our recession: dealing with Covid,” he wrote, focusing on money for research, temporary hospital beds or therapeutics rather than fiscal stimulus including travel incentives — though tens of millions of Americans remain out of work.