US ready to distribute 1.5 million coronavirus tests to states

Posted at 6:27 PM, Mar 04, 2020

At a White House briefing on Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence said that the government will have 1.5 million coronavirus tests ready to distribute this week after bipartisan criticism was levied on the government's ability to distribute tests.

Pence added that tests are available in all 50 states, giving doctors the ability to better determine whether patients have been sickened with coronavirus.

These tests will go to hospitals and labs at state universities.

The eventual goal is to make the tests accessible more broadly.

"Our objective is to make tests available broadly to the American public," Pence said. "We want to make sure the American people can go to their doctor, can go to the local MedCheck or CVS, and obtain access to coronavirus (tests)."

On Tuesday, members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee expressed frustration with the distribution of tests.

"I'm sure across the nation are really scared," Sen. Patty Murray said at Tuesday's hearing. "I'm hearing from people who are sick who want to get tested, are not being told where to go. I'm hearing that even when people do get tested and it's very few so far, the results are taking way longer to get back to them.

"The administration has had months to prepare for this and it is unacceptable that people in my state and nationwide can't even get an answer as to whether or not they are infected."

The announcement comes as the death toll nationwide is up to 11 from coronavirus. It also comes as United Airlines announced that it is cutting back the number of domestic and international flights.

Administration officials said that elderly and those with pre-existing conditions should reconsider elective travel.

Pence and other members of the coronavirus task force said for the general population, the risk posed by coronavirus is low.