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President Trump Doubles Down On Coronavirus Testing Capabilities

President Trump speaks during the daily briefing on the coronavirus Monday.
President Trump speaks during the daily briefing on the coronavirus Monday.

Updated at 7:42 p.m. ET

President Trump said Monday that adequate coronavirus testing existed but was being underutilized by governors, following a chorus of complaints by state leaders and health care experts regarding the country's insufficient testing capacity.

The White House last week issued guidelines on a three-tiered approach for states to begin easing coronavirus restrictions. But many state officials have said that they do not yet have the capacity to aggressively test for new COVID-19 cases.

Trump has been resistant to states' demands for additional testing help. During the Monday daily coronavirus task force briefing, Trump said that public-private partnerships had significantly expanded the nation's testing capabilities, "but some states need to take action to fully utilize it."

The Monday coronavirus task force briefing comes after a series of tense disagreements between Trump and a number of Democratic governors last week.

Almost immediately after the administration's three-phase plan to ease coronavirus restrictions was released, several governors openly disputed the president's projected timeline on their ability to safely begin lifting stay-at-home orders.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has been catapulted to the national spotlight as leader of the state most badly ravaged by the coronavirus, was among the most prominent voices at odds with Trump.

On Friday, the pair engaged in a heated back-and-forth that included the president tweeting at Cuomo to "Stop talking!" during the governor's daily coronavirus briefing. Cuomo responded with the suggestion that the president watch less television and instead "get up and get to work."

Trump announced on Monday that the two "get along" and would be meeting at the White House on Tuesday at Cuomo's request.

Trump's disagreement with the New York governor was one of several stoked last week. On Friday, Trump spoke highly of far-right protesters who demonstrated in public, in open defiance of their states' stay-at-home orders.

"LIBERATE," Trump tweeted in all caps, mentioning Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia — all states with Democratic governors and state-issued stay-at-home orders.

Trump later described the protesters, many of whom wore Make America Great Again gear but not protective masks, as "very responsible people."

"They've been treated a little bit rough," he said.

The administration hopes that this week will bring some bipartisan agreement on additional coronavirus relief funding, possibly including: $300 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, $75 billion in emergency funding for hospitals, $50 billion for small-business disaster loans and $25 billion for testing.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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