President Donald Trump has advised state governors not to wait on the federal government when it comes to ensuring readiness for a surge in patients from the COVID-19 outbreak.
“If they are able to get ventilators, respirators, if they are able to get certain things without having to go through the longer process of federal government,” they should order on their own and bypass the federal government ordering system, the president stated during a March 16 press briefing.
That being said, he noted that the federal government is “ordering tremendous numbers of ventilators, respirators, [and] masks,” although he could not give a specific number on how much has been ordered or how many has already been stockpiled.
“It is always going to be faster if they can get them directly, if they need them, and I have given them authorization to order directly,” President Trump said.
The comments came as the White House revised recommendations on gatherings. The new guidelines now limit gatherings to no more than 10 people. Officials are further advising Americans to self-quarantine for 2 weeks if they are sick, if someone in their house is sick, or if someone in their house has tested positive for COVID-19.
Additionally, the White House called on Americans to limit discretionary travel and to avoid eating and drinking in restaurants, bars, and food courts during the next 15 days, even if they are feeling healthy and are asymptomatic.
“With several weeks of focused action, we can turn the corner and turn it quickly,” the president said.
In terms of testing, the Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization to two commercial diagnostic tests: Thermo Fisher for its TaqPath COVID-19 Combo Kit and Roche for its cobas SARS-CoV-2 test. White House officials said up to 1 million tests will be available this week, with 2 million next week.
The president also announced that phase 1 testing of a vaccine has begun. The test involves more than 40 healthy volunteers in the Seattle area who will receive three shots over the trial period. Phase 1 testing is generally conducted to determine safety of a new therapeutic.