Trump official leading COVID-19 testing to return to regular duties
The Trump administration official leading the COVID-19 testing efforts will return to his regular duties in mid-June, he announced Monday.
Adm. Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for health, said at a public meeting Monday he will return to his regular duties next month after spending the past several weeks working with FEMA to increase COVID-19 testing capacity.
“I expect to be de-mobilized from FEMA in mid-June, and return full time to my former position and responsibility, including HIV,” Giroir said during a virtual meeting of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA).
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in March designated Giroir to work on testing issues as the Trump administration faced criticism over the slow pace of COVID-19 testing throughout the U.S.
Giroir’s pending return to his regular duties comes even as experts say the U.S. isn’t doing enough testing to fully reopen the country.
More than 10 million COVID-19 tests were completed in May alone, a significant improvement from the early days of the epidemic in the U.S. But Harvard experts say the country should be running 900,000 tests daily to contain the coronavirus.
“While ADM Giroir will remain engaged with the COVID-19 testing and related efforts, many of the day-to-day management and operations of testing are being transitioned to HHS operating divisions under the leadership of the Immediate Office of the Secretary, allowing him to return to the key public health responsibilities of the Assistant Secretary for Health including combatting substance misuse, ending HIV, promoting vaccination, and improving the lives of those living with Sickle Cell Disease both in the US and around the world,” an HHS spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill.
Experts have worried the Trump administration is sidelining the coronavirus response as it looks to reopen the country.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert and a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, told STAT in an interview published Monday that his meetings with President Trump have “dramatically decreased” in recent weeks.
However, COVID-19 is still circulating throughout the country, especially in nursing homes and prisons, where individuals are closely confined. Nearly 1.8 million cases have been confirmed in the U.S., and there have been 105,000 deaths.