Pence Corrects Jon Karl's 'Misunderstanding' of the Testing Process

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Posted: Apr 28, 2020 2:30 PM
Pence Corrects Jon Karl's 'Misunderstanding' of the Testing Process

Source: Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen

"In May, we are going to be doing more testing in this country," Admiral Brett Giroir promised at Monday's coronavirus task force briefing in the Rose Garden. States with the least amount of testing will double the overall amount per capita that South Korea has done in four months, he said. That includes 20 million swabs scattered among the states.

ABC's Jonathan Karl asked the task force about a promise they made on March 13 that the government would be drastically increasing drive up testing sites. By his count, he said, only 69 of those test sites had been set up by the companies that had come to the White House. He added that Pence said that 4 million tests would be made available by the following week. 

The exchange comes at 42:47.

"We've just now got there," Karl noted, asking Pence what went wrong and what lessons they've learned.

"Jon I appreciate the question but it represents a misunderstanding on your part," the vice president responded. 

What Karl was missing, Pence explained, was "the difference between having a test versus having the ability to actually process the test." 

When Pence was appointed to the task force two months ago, he said that there was a large amount of test kits being produced, but the old system "would never be able to process the tests we need during an epidemic." So President Trump assembled commercial labs and asked them to put their energy into high speed testing. 

"There was no disconnect at all," Pence insisted to ABC's Karl.

Now, the VP said, we're at a point where we've done 5.5 million tests to date, and we will soon be at the point where can administer as many as 2.2 million tests per week.

Trump added we have the most and the best testing "by far" in the world. 

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"We've met this moment with American ingenuity," Pence said.

Perhaps the president is on to something when he noted that for weeks the press challenged the White House on ventilators. When the government caught up and actually exceeded the country's need for ventilators, the media went mum. Now, all he hears is "testing, testing, testing." He accused reporters like Karl last week of never being satisfied with his administration.

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