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First, Double the Testing, Fauci Says

Newser — Bob Cronin

The US is conducting 1.5 million to 2 million coronavirus tests a week, Dr. Anthony Fauci said, which sounds like a lot. But he said that's only halfway to the level the nation needs.

"We probably should get up to twice that as we get into the next several weeks," Fauci said, "and I think we will." The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases made the comments Saturday to the National Academy of Sciences, Politico reports.

Nearly 20% of the tests come back positive, which is an indicator that testing is insufficient; that rate should be "maybe less than 10%," Fauci said.

Large-scale testing can provide an idea of how widespread infections are and help health officials isolate people with the virus, as well as trace their contacts with uninfected people.

Adequate testing should "get those who are infected out of society so that they don't infect others," Fauci said.

President Trump countered a comment Fauci made last week about needing to increase testing, per CNN.

"I don't agree with him on that, no, I think we're doing a great job on testing," Trump said during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House.

Fauci did say testing isn't the only important factor as the nation moves toward reopening its economy. "We don't want to get fixated on how many tests you need," he said, but the nation should "have enough tests to respond to the outbreaks that will inevitably occur as you try and ease your way back into the different phases." Fauci's absentee rate at the White House briefings spiked last week, per NBC.

Overall, he's missed few of the 50 or so press briefings, but he skipped six of the seven last week. White House officials said Fauci has been tending to other duties but is still working with the task force.

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