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Fauci strikes different tone on testing than Trump, calls for ‘partnership’ between states and feds

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a briefing on coronavirus in the Brady press briefing room at the White House, Saturday, March 14, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon via CNN)

(CNN) — Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday there needs to be “a partnership” between the federal government and states on coronavirus testing, striking a different tone on testing than President Donald Trump, who has recently blamed governors for testing shortfalls in their states and said Sunday “testing is local.”

Fauci has frequently offered less optimistic views about the nation’s recovery from coronavirus than Trump, and his public statements are being carefully monitored as Trump weighs advice from his medical experts and his own political concerns and aims to reopen the country.

Fauci’s remark comes as states pressure the federal government to ramp up testing after the White House issued guidelines on reopening. Several governors, including Larry Hogan of Maryland, have pushed back against the President who has said testing is no longer a problem. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said on “Good Morning America,” “I can empathize with the governor and believe them.”

“What we need to do is make a better connectivity with the tests that are available as well as the capacity that in some cases is not used, through no fault of the governor or the local people, that there are now — should be between one and a half to two-plus million tests per week,” Fauci told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. “There are people out there who say, ‘We need more, we need maybe two or three times that.’ We’re striving for that goal but in the meantime with what we have, if it is used strategically, we feel we would be able to have most people enter into phase one after they pass that 14-day gating period.”

He continued, “We know it’s a problem and it was just mentioned, there are things that are obstacles in the way, that George, we need a partnership between the federal government and the local people, including the governors, to help them get to things that they maybe not have any access to.”

Governors have pleaded for federal assistance as they grapple with coronavirus in their states. There are more than 759,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States and more than 40,000 people have died, according to John Hopkins University.

After criticism from governors over the lack of testing supplies, Trump said Sunday he would use his powers under the Defense Production Act to compel a US company to produce swabs used for collecting specimen in coronavirus testing.

The President also said the federal government cannot be responsible for testing in each community, saying that “testing is local.”

“The governors wanted to have total control over the opening of their states. But now they want to have us, the federal government, do the testing,” Trump said. “Testing is local. You can’t have it both ways. Testing is a local thing. It’s very important. It’s great. But it’s a local thing. And we are going to get it done to a level in a very short period of time.”

Faui has also cautioned against the President quickly reopening the US, telling The Associated Press the country is not fully ready to ease up on social distancing measures that have helped slow the spread of the virus.

“We have to have something in place that is efficient and that we can rely on, and we’re not there yet,” Fauci said.