If you tuned into the Sunday news shows this morning for comfort that the government has the COVID-19 situation well in hand, you were sorely disappointed. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson admitted there is no plan for the passengers aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship plagued with the virus that will dock in Oakland, Calif. tomorrow. And the surgeon general, Dr. Jerome Adams, refused to say how many Americans have been tested for the virus.
Appearing on ABC’s This Week, Ben Carson told host George Stephanopoulos that more than a million tests were available despite multiple news reports of physicians requesting tests and being told no. Carson also admitted that a plan for how to handle the cruise ship was not yet in place.
“The cruise ship personnel and, as you know, the vice president met with the CEOs of the major cruise ship companies yesterday, and they are coming up with a plan within 72 hours of that meeting,” Carson said.
“The ship is docking tomorrow,” Stephanopoulos said.
“The plan will be in place by that time. But I don’t want to preview the plan right now,” was Carson’s response.
Currently, 21 people on the ship are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, including 19 crew members.
When Stephanopoulos continued to press Carson on the issue, he said the plan “needs to all come from a solitary source.” He added, “We shouldn’t have 16 people saying what the plan is. Particularly when it hasn’t been fully formulated.”
“Well, you’re the president’s representative this morning,” Stephanopoulos countered.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The Grand Princess is docking tomorrow. What's the plan for the 3,500 people on board?
BEN CARSON: They're coming up with one
S: It docks tomorrow
C: The plan will be in place
S: Shouldn't you be able to say what it is?
C: It hasn't been fully formulated pic.twitter.com/J717Q7q0DG
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 8, 2020
Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, Surgeon General Jerome Adams said that the virus was being contained to certain areas of America and could not tell Jake Tapper how many in the United States have been tested for the virus. Adams served as Indiana’s health commissioner from 2014-2017 and, along with then-governor Mike Pence, delayed implementing safe needle exchanges during the worst HIV outbreak in the history of the state.
“If we had massive numbers of cases we would be seeing more deaths. And so we actually feel pretty good that some parts of the country have contained it just like when you look at the flu,” Adams said. Currently, the virus has been found in 32 states plus D.C., and 21 of the more than 500 known to have the virus have died.
Adams’ statement about containment also directly contradicts what Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Fox News the same day: “We are having, obviously, an acceleration in cases now. If you look at it, every day we have more and more.”
Asked how many people have been tested for the virus, Adams said, “The [coronavirus] numbers are tough because they’re changing minute-by-minute.”
“Just a rough estimate?” Tapper asked again.
“They should know that we have 75,000 tests available right now for folks,” Adams said. “By early next week, tomorrow, we should have over two million tests available, by the end of the week, through partnerships with private industry, over four million tests available. But the most important number to the American people is one. They want to know, if I go in, can I get a test?”
Adams continued, “And the one thing that I have heard — I have been to Georgia, I have been to Florida, I have been to Connecticut in the past week — is that no public health doctor who has asked for a test has not been able to get a test.” Adams must not be reading the news because, again, this is patently untrue.
Surgeon General Adams can't give Tapper a straight answer (or any answer at all) about how many Americans have been tested for coronavirus pic.twitter.com/3G0mmVAUEM
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 8, 2020
Tapper kept pressing, saying, “But you can’t give me — just a yes or no, you can’t give me even a rough number of how many Americans have been tested? You don’t know?”
“I would refer you to the CDC for that because, again, the numbers change so rapidly. I don’t want to give you a number,” Adams replied.
“They took it off the [CDC’s] website, how many people have been tested, they removed it from the web site,” Tapper said.
Adams then said the FDA commissioner shared the number of people tested on Saturday, but Tapper quickly corrected him, saying, “The FDA commissioner gave a number that was in the 5,000s but it was how many tests had been given, not how many people have been tested. We’re still waiting for a number on that.”
If these two interviews are anything to go by, we’re probably going to be waiting a long time for that number.