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Azar contradicts Pence, says there's no coronavirus testing kit shortage

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar maintained that the administration is not in the midst of a coronavirus testing kit shortage, contradicting a warning issued by Vice President Pence earlier this week.

“There is no testing kit shortage, nor has there ever been,” Azar said on ABC News Friday. “We will have by the end of this weekend over 1.2 million tests around America in public health labs as well as in private and commercial labs, and that is scaling up by the millions, ramping up rapidly.” 

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The remark came a day after Pence said the U.S. does not have enough coronavirus tests to meet the expected demand.

“We don’t have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward,” Pence, who is overseeing the administration's response to the virus, told reporters Thursday. “For those that we believe have been exposed, for those who are showing symptoms, we’ve been able to provide the testing.” 

Democrats have panned the Trump administration over what they say is a shortage of testing kits. Washington Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayWorking together to effectively address patient identification during COVID-19 Plaintiff and defendant from Obergefell v. Hodges unite to oppose Barrett's confirmation Overnight Health Care: Trump takes criticism of Fauci to a new level | GOP Health Committee chairman defends Fauci | Birx confronted Pence about Atlas MORE (D), whose state has the most cases in the U.S., said the government has not been transparent enough in its kit distribution.

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“I am extremely frustrated by how the Trump administration has handled the deployment of such tests, including how it has communicated to Congress and the public about when, where, and to whom tests will be available,” Murray wrote in a letter to Pence.  

Pence on Friday defended the government’s handling of the test kits, saying at a press conference that 4 million will be shipped by the end of next week.

Azar said the administration is undergoing a “blend of containment, where we work to stop the introduction of the disease further into the United States or its spread in the United States” as well as “mitigation efforts” in areas experiencing outbreaks like Seattle.