White House Coronavirus Testing Czar Repudiates Donald Trump’s Pandemic Victory Lap

The White House Science Office declaring “Mission Accomplished” as COVID-19 infections reach all-time highs is not sitting well with its testing czar, Brett Giroir, who on Tuesday threw cold water on President Donald Trump’s bogus declarations about the virus being defeated.

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“I think we’re very comparable to what was going in July and August. Testing may be identifying some more cases, I think that’s clearly true, but what we’re seeing is a real increase in the numbers,” Giroir, an assistant secretary of Health and Human Services, said at a Washington Post Live event. “Back in March and April we were only testing one out of ten or one out of every 15 cases, so you can’t really compare today to back in March and April. But compared to the post-Memorial Day surge, even though testing is up, this is a real increase in cases.”

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“We know that not only because the case numbers are up and we can calculate that, but we know that hospitalizations are going up. But to put it in perspective, there are several areas of the country where hospitals are becoming full and being stressed,” Giroir said. “But we are still at about 41,000 people in the hospital with coronavirus, compared to a high of 76,000 in July. So you know we really have a mixed picture but we are tenuous now. We really have to re-engage the public health measures that we know work or those hospitalizations can go up substantially.”

Giroir noted that it is “good news” that “a lot of younger people are getting it than older people, which is why” fewer people are ending up in the hospital. Additionally, “we do have some effective therapies that we can apply. There’s nothing that we’re gonna do that’s better than preventing infections in the first place, and those are those public health measures that we talked about,” said Giroir.

He added that until a reliable vaccine is widely available, which could be well into next year, people should adhere to wearing masks and adequately socially distancing.

“Until we get a vaccine – vaccines are coming, we are very encouraged that there are now four open phase three trials, preliminary data look good – but this is not going to be here tomorrow. We may get the first vaccines out this year, we’re certainly hopeful for that. We’re hopeful that they’ll be in screening the eldery, for example, protecting the elderly and the most vulnerable, so even if we only have a few million vaccines we might get most of the benefit. But the American people will not be fully immunized even if everything goes well, at least until mid-2021,” the secretary explained. “So we have to be very disciplined about our mask wearing, avoiding crowds, particularly around the holidays – it doesn’t have to be hundreds of people. But a family gathering of 20 or 25 or 30 still means that we have to be careful about our interactions, about our hygiene, particularly if there are vulnerable people within our family.”

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