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Financial executives tell Trump more testing needed


Although showing no symptoms and being cautious, Keith Whiteing has the back of his nasal passage swabbed while being tested for the novel coronavirus at the Velocity Urgent Care April 15, 2020 in Woodbridge, Virginia.

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

A group of business executives warned President Donald Trump on Wednesday that the federal government “needed to dramatically increase” the availability of coronavirus testing before Americans would feel comfortable returning to their normal lives, according to a new report.

The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the situation, said Trump held a conference call with about three dozen financial, food and beverage, hospitality and retail industry executives who are part of a new task force that will advise him on reopening the country.

It was the first of four planned calls involving task force members.

“The people involved in the first call … described current testing levels in the U.S. as inadequate to effectively reopen the economy,” the Journal reported.

The participants reportedly told the president that Americans needed to see much more testing for Covid-19 before they “would be confident enough to return to work, eat at restaurants or shop in retail establishments.”

A number of the executives on the hourlong call indicated that are trying to obtain tests for their own companies so that their workers and customers can be screened for the virus, according to the Journal.

The number of Americans tested daily for the coronavirus has been between 120,000 and 140,000 in recent weeks, according to a Washington Post report that noted that rate still leaves the U.S. behind South Korea, Germany, Canada and Italy on testing per capita.

Paul Romer, a New York University economics professor and Nobel laureate, has said that more than 20 million Americans should be tested each day.

The Journal, in its report, said that during the call Trump called “on participants who largely praised the president and his administration.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, echoing advice from many health experts, said Wednesday that there needs to be widespread testing for the coronavirus, coupled with the tracing of people who have been in contact with infected people, before life could return to close to normal in the absence of a vaccine for the virus.

Cuomo called on the federal government to play a lead role in expanding testing.

On the same day, Senate Democrats announced a $30 billion proposed plan to significantly expand coronavirus testing.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., criticized the Trump administration’s response to date on the testing issue.

“We have to ramp up testing so it can be done on a broader scale,” Schumer told reporters.

“The administration is at best scattershot and at worst just chaotic when it comes to testing,” Schumer said.



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