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Fauci: US needs to 'significantly ramp up' testing

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care: CDC urges 'universal' indoor mask use when not at home | Pelosi bullish on COVID-19 relief | Trump largely silent on coronavirus as health officials sound the alarm Fauci warns US has not hit 'Thanksgiving peak' even as cases soar The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Capital One - Fauci to serve as Biden's chief medical adviser MORE, the administration's top infectious diseases expert, said Thursday that the United States needs to "significantly ramp up" its testing capacity in order to effectively contain the coronavirus as blunt measures like stay-at-home orders are eased.

"I agree you don't need to test everybody, but you should at least be able to test the people in which you have to test to be able to do containment, and right now I think there's still some gaps there," Fauci said in an interview with Time magazine. "I mean, on paper it might look OK, but we absolutely need to significantly ramp up not only the number of tests, but the capacity to actually perform them."

He noted there are problems with securing supplies needed to conduct the tests as well, such as swabs and chemicals.  

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"I am not overly confident right now at all that we have what it takes to do that," he said of having robust enough testing. "We're doing better and I think we're going to get there, but we're not there yet."

The comments are a warning about the need for more action to increase testing as President TrumpDonald John TrumpAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week Conservative policy director calls Section 230 repeal an 'existential threat' for tech MORE expresses his eagerness for the economy to begin to reopen. Trump has said that it is the states' responsibility, not his, to increase testing, though he has offered help in some areas.  

The United States is currently doing about one million tests per week, a figure that has been relatively flat for some time, according to the Covid Tracking Project. 

Fauci echoed other experts when he said the country needs to be doing "closer to 3" million tests per week. 

He said if social distancing measures are going to be eased to a large extent, "you may need multiple times that as you get into the late spring and early summer." 

"For goodness sakes, when we get into the fall, after all of those months, we better have multiple times that," he added.  

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Several governors have been calling on Trump to more fully use the powers of the federal government to increase production of needed supplies for testing.  

Fauci also addressed his relationship with the president, including the controversy after Trump retweeted a post with the hashtag "firefauci," saying he was not worried about losing his job. 

"Well, you know I meet with the president literally every day and, you know, there was no way he was going to do that, because he had no intention of doing that. I mean, he tweeted it out, but as he said publicly when they asked him about that, that's not even on the table," Fauci said.  

He appeared to reference protesters and others unhappy with him when he said that some people "use me as the symbol of shutting down the economy, which it's understandable but not really real."

"I just give public health advice," Fauci said. "What happens with the economy is something that people that are beyond what I'm responsible for [do]."

As worries grow about whether Trump and other administration officials are listening to the science, Fauci offered a measure of reassurance on that front. 

"As much as there's a lot of noise out there about agreements or disagreements, in fact the evidence-based recommendations in the end will always prevail," he said.