Last Night, Trump Admitted that Jared Kushner — Who Promised Testing in Big Box Parking Lots — Had Failed

Back on March 13, in the same press conference where he first declared an emergency, the Administration made several claims about their plan to roll out testing.

First, the White House said the White House was intimately involved in the effort to increase testing. The effort to expand testing was a public-private initiative, as Mike Pence explained.

Mr. President, I know I join you in saying that every American should be proud of this incredible public-private partnership that’s going to speeding access of testing to millions of Americans in the weeks ahead.

As Dr. Deborah Birx explained, Donald Trump was at the center of this public-private initiative.

DR. BIRX:  Thank you, Mr. President.  It’s a pleasure to be here with all of you.

I think you know — at the beginning of this epidemic, HHS, through CDC, proactively developed an assay built on the existing flu surveillance system.  That surveillance system was then converted to diagnostic system.

But last Tuesday, seeing the spread of the virus around the globe, the President realized that our current approach to testing was inadequate to need — to meet the needs of the American public.  He asked for an entire overhaul of the testing approach.  He immediately called the private sector laboratories to the White House, as noted, and charged them with developing a high-throughput quality platform that can meet the needs of the American public.

We are grateful to LabCorp and Quest for taking up the charge immediately after the meeting and within 72 hours bringing additional testing access, particularly to the outbreak areas of Washington State and California, and now across the country.

We are also very grateful to the universities and large hospital systems that took up the charge to develop their own quality tests made available by new FDA guidance.  This has resulted in expanded testing across New York, California, Washington, Colorado, and you see sometimes those drive-thru options that have been made available through these high-throughput options.

Following the meeting last week, major commercial laboratory equipment and diagnostic companies took immediate action to adopt and develop new testing systems.  Last night, the initial company, Roche, received FDA approval, moving from request to development to approval in record time.

This innovative approach centered fully on unleashing the power of the private sector, focusing on providing convenient testing to hundreds of thousands of Americans within short turnaround times.  In less than two weeks together, we have developed a solution that we believe will meet the future needs — testing needs of Americans.

Both Pence …

But today, I trust that people around the country that are looking on at this extraordinary public and private partnership to address the issue of testing with particular inspiration.  After you tapped me to lead the White House Corona Task Force, Mr. President, you said this is all hands on deck, and you directed us to immediately reach out to the American business sector commercial labs to meet what we knew then would be the need for testing across the spectrum.  And today, with this historic public-private partnership, we have laid the foundation to meet that need.

And for Americans looking on, by this Sunday evening, we’ll be able to give specific guidance on a — on when the website will be available.  You can go to the website, as the President said.  You’ll type in your symptoms and be given direction whether or not a test is indicated.

And then, at the same website, you’ll be directed to one of these incredible companies that are going to give a little bit of their parking lot so that people can come by and do a drive-by test.

[snip]

But what the President charged us with, when I was tasked to take over the White House Coronavirus Task Force, was: Open up tests all across the country.  And the President said, a few days ago, that we made it clear that any American that wanted to get a test would be able, clinically, to get a test.  Because I literally heard from the Governor of Washington State, who said the doctors in Washington State were saying that if you were only mildly symptomatic, they would not order a test.  And fortunately, the President directed CDC to clarify that.

Now anyone in consultation with their physician, regardless of their symptoms can request a test and their doctors will contact those agencies, those labs in their state.  But very soon, Americans will be able to go to these — these drive-in sites and be able to obtain and participate in a test.

Dr. Birx…

So we want to also announce this new approach to testing, which will start in the screening website up here, facilitated by Google, where clients and patients and people that have interest can go, fill out a screening questionnaire — move down for symptoms or risk factors, yes.  They would move down this and be told where the drive-thru options would be for them to receive this test.  The labs will then move to the high-throughput automated machines to be able to provide results in 24 to 36 hours.

That is the intent of this approach.

And Trump himself  promised drive-thru testing.

At the same time, we’ve been in discussions with pharmacies and retailers to make drive-thru tests available in the critical locations identified by public health professionals.  The goal is for individuals to be able to drive up and be swabbed without having to leave your car.

The CEO of WalMart, Doug McMillon, even got into the act of claiming to be working towards drive-thru testing.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much, Tony.

If I could, some of these folks we know; they’re celebrities in their own right.  They’re the biggest business people, the greatest retailers anywhere in the world.  And one of them is Doug McMillon from Walmart.  And I’d like to have Doug, if you would, say a few words, wherever you may be.

Doug, please.

MR. MCMILLON:  When we got the call yesterday from the White House, we were eager to do our part to help serve the country.  And given what we’re facing, that’s certainly important to do.  We should all be doing that.

So we’ve been asked to make portions of our parking lot available in select locations in the beginning, and scaling over time as supply increases, so that people can experience the drive-thru experience that the President described.

We’ll stay involved and do everything we can from a supply-chain point of view to be of assistance.

Thank you, sir.

Within days, it became clear that the President’s son-in-law was behind the promises for both the website and the drive-thru testing in the parking lots of Big Box stores.

Following the news conference, it quickly became evident that the announcement, engineered by the office of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, far exceeded the actual preparations.

Asked about the specific plans afterward, representatives of the four companies — Target, Walgreens, Walmart and CVS — said they had few details on how the tests would be administered or where or when they would begin.

And an hour after the president and his aides left the Rose Garden, a Google communications account tweeted a comment from Verily, the life sciences division of Google parent company Alphabet, that suggested the idea of building a broadly available website is preliminary.

Almost a month  and over 10,000 deaths later, the Big Box stores that got the free advertising associated with these planned parking lot drive-thru test sites still have fewer than two dozen sites open.

Walgreens said Tuesday that it plans to open 15 drive-thru testing locations for the coronavirus across seven states, starting later this week.

The sites will be in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas, the drugstore chain said in a news release. They will use Abbott Laboratories’ rapid COVID-19 test.

Walgreen’s expansion of drive-thru testing marks the acceleration of an effort that the White House announced more than three weeks ago. President Donald Trump met with leaders of major U.S. retailers and health-care companies March 13 and announced in the Rose Garden that four companies — Walmart, Target, CVS Health and Walgreens — would host drive-thru testing in their parking lots. The U.S. has lagged behind other countries in the availability of coronavirus testing.

Since then, only about a handful of sites have opened in the retailers’ parking lots. Most are staffed by government health-care workers. Walmart has two drive-thrus and Walgreens has one drive-thru in the Chicago area, but they restrict tests to first responders. CVS has a drive-thru in Massachusetts and said Monday that it would open two new drive-thru locations: one in Atlanta and one near Providence, Rhode Island. These latest sites are not in CVS parking lots, but at larger locations that can support multiple lanes of cars.

Last night, when Trump got asked about the inadequate state of testing in the country, he got snippy.

Kristen Fisher: I know you don’t want to talk about the Inspector General Report, but testing is still a big issue in this country. [Trump sighs audibly.] When can hospitals expect–

Trump [speaking over her]: Can you put that slide up again please

Fisher: When can hospitals expect to receive a quick test of the test results?

Trump [again speaking over her]: Are you ready? Are you ready? Hospitals can do their own testing also. States can do their own testing. [points at her] States are supposed to be doing testing. Hospitals are supposed to be doing testing. You understand that? We’re the Federal government — [reporter tries to restate] Listen [points at her] We’re the Federal government. We’re not supposed to stand on street corners doing testing. They go to doctors. They go to hospitals. They go to the state. The state is a more localized government. You have fifty of them. And they can go — fifty — within — you also have territories, as you know. And they do the testing. And if you look at the chart, if you take a look, have you put it up? Yeah. Just take a look. And these are testing, and the results are now coming in very quickly. Initially speaking, the tests were old, obsolete, and not really prepared. We have a brand new testing system that we developed very quickly and that’s your result. And you should say Congratulations, great job, instead of being so horrid in the way you asked a question.

There’s a lot that’s bullshit in this comment. There were no “old, obsolete” tests when this started (though it is true that Trump’s Administration was, “not really prepared.” It’s not clear anyone has a definitive count of tests, as claimed in Trump’s chart.

But his key claim here — that the Federal government is “not supposed to stand on street corners doing testing” — is unresponsive to Fisher’s question (which was about turnaround), but was a defense against the observation that Trump and the totally unqualified family member he brought in to this process have utterly failed to deliver something promised 25 days ago, drive-thru testing, the closest thing America could get to standing on the street corner testing people.

It may or may not be the Federal government’s job to stand on street corners testing, but that is what he promised, and that is what Jared Kushner has utterly failed to deliver.

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41 replies
  1. Barry Kiefl says:

    The transcript of the March 13 press conference reads like a translation from a foreign language.

    • puzzled scottish person says:

      ‘The transcript of the March 13 press conference reads like a translation from a foreign language.’

      Story of the Trump Presidency for me. I was born and brought up in a (more-or-less) English-speaking country – Scotland – and half the time, I have no fucking idea what the orange blob is trying to say.

      The guy is incapable of grammar or syntax. There is something very, very wrong with him.

      But you guys are all painfully aware of that and I can only wish you luck.

      Oh, and if you could try to stop him poisoning our Prime Minister with his snake-oil, that would be nice, ta.

      (Has the donald got shares in these untested drugs? Somebody please investigate that.)

  2. Bri2k says:

    Did anyone expect failson-in-law to contribute anything remotely useful?
    I wonder who’ll be tapped next, the ‘My Pillow’ guy maybe?

    These people seem to delight in fiddling while the rest of us burn.

  3. Rugger9 says:

    We’ll see if the MSM calls him out on that promise to test in the parking lots. Random testing will also be needed to find the asymptomatic patients since those will be the unwitting agents of destruction and we do not know where they are. Any patterns found can then be used to direct resources efficiently.

    But because of Jared the Boy Blunder (h/t Batman) and DJT’s incompetence and denialism, there aren’t enough tests to do what the ROK did so we’re having to go on an Easter Egg hunt.

    • Rugger9 says:

      And, Ivanka was running the small business meeting today at the WH. Western Truck Fab….

      What this also does is that when the ordure hits the rotating air mover it will be much harder for DJT to say he wasn’t involved. Most smart dictators keep their fingerprints off the levers.

      Also, notice how the purge of IGs is continuing over the slush fund monitoring. There is only one reason for that but I would have expected that he wouldn’t need to get the cash so soon…

      • P J Evans says:

        “Most smart dictators keep their fingerprints off the levers.”

        Well, we know *this* one isn’t smart.

      • vicks says:

        Tell “Ivanka”, if she wants to help small businesses, she need to get her ass down to the closest call center for Chase bank, put her skinny butt in a chair, pick up a headset and start answering some gd questions about these loans Munchkin promised would be funded Friday.

  4. Badger Robert says:

    The delay involved in figuring out how to make money on Corona virus testing was directly the cause of having to resort to a quarantine. The economy is shut down, and the vacation and resort industry is collapsing because of Kushner. Instead of being qualified and confirmed for anything, he married the President’s daughter. Following the advice of someone who is loyal, but dumb, is a Stalinist act.

    • P J Evans says:

      Upstairs neighbor worked for a travel company that specialized in tours. She’s out of work and trying to figure out how to get unemployment.

      • ducktree says:

        My upstairs neighbor is an independent plumber – who just paid $440k for his unit late last year . . . he’s locked down at home like the rest of us. . . I can hear him rumbling around upstairs. Oy!

        • Anne says:

          From what I understand talking to the building inspectors here in my CA town, a plumber repairing somebody’s emergency would be considered an essential service.

          • bmaz says:

            Given recs for protective measures, should that not be the case? Hard to see a problem with that.

          • Molly Pitcher says:

            FYI, plumbers are definitely an essential service. I am in California, in the Bay Area and in the construction industry. Also approved is car repair, laundries, electricians. Even General Contractors for repair of emergencies.

            There are some construction projects continuing if they are related to transportation, affordable housing or major infrastructure support such as sewage treatment, electrical, water treatment.

    • John K says:

      “The delay involved in figuring out how to make money on Corona virus testing was directly the cause of having to resort to a quarantine.”

      It was also directly the cause of a lot of unnecessary suffering and deaths.

  5. OldTulsaDude says:

    This administration is intent on blending the government with the private sector. There is speculation that led by Kushner they are using the government to cover costs while favored businesses benefit with price-gouging profits. I wish I knew if this was accurate.

    • harpie says:

      Maybe we should just go with our gut like Trump does.

      My gut says while this might be on the right track,
      the situation is most likely worse than that.

    • P J Evans says:

      I grew up in a public school system with no prayers or religion other than the Pledge of Allegiance. We learned just fine – we got religion at church and maybe at home.
      I don’t recall there being nearly as much crime as there has been in the last 40 years, with the conservative emphasis on pushing religion into government and everyone’s life.

  6. Yogarhythms says:

    Ew,
    President Trump “ If I could, some of these folks we know; they’re celebrities in their own right. They’re the biggest business people, the greatest retailers anywhere in the world. And one of them is Doug McMillon from Walmart.“ Testing all hospital workers around Detroit has led to healthcare worker shortages as sick workers are quarantined. NYC hospitals are not testing all employees and contractors just taking temperatures after employees take Tylenol and ibuprofen to lower temperatures too keep working or loose their job. Back to the clown prince designed testing in parking lots or utter lack of parking lot testing. Microorganisms don’t have their own legs. Jarred’s lack of deliverable testing keeps a veil of secrecy over Covid19 locations. Strategic epidemiology depends on accurate mandated reporting of positive Covid19 test results. How is our national strategic epidemiology going? Ask Jarred?

  7. Fran of the North says:

    Those weren’t the only promises.

    Anybody got the address for that Google site that was going to do…uhhh…something??? It was just hours from being deployed. And how about Larry Ellison and Oracle?

    The fact that anyone even listens to any of these clowns’ drivel boggles the mind. The fact that it gets reported in the press is criminal.

  8. rg says:

    “…it quickly became evident that the announcement, engineered by the office of Jared Kushner, …far exceeded the preparations.”

    I may be imagining too much here, but this reminds me of another strategy: it wasn’t necessary for Ukraine to actually conduct the investigations into the Bidens, only to announce them.

  9. e.a.f. says:

    Yogoryms—/what you wrote just made me laugh. It’s exactly how trump sounds. It is beyond me why he hasn’t been removed from office. He can’t speak in clear sentences.

    Now from what I understand about America rules there isn’t any thing which declares they need to be sane or have an aquauntaince with the English language. However the mush which comes out of his mouth yikes?!?!?!

    Why MSM continue to carry him live is beyond me. His snake oil routine on the compound is free advertising. I think it reasonable to conclude the msm is complicit in all of this. They give trump so much free air time I truly wonder what they are getting out of it. I just wish one reporter would tell trump to shut up and not be rude.

    Then while all of this is going on where are the Democrats. Saw Pelosi on Maddox but air time isn’t what they seem to be getting. You’d think all those former candidates would be out there going at it tong and nail. You think some of them might start running media campaigns calling trump Moscow Mitch out on some of this. There is this new thing called Facebook. I understand some politicians have used it

    In BC the curve is starting to flatten but even if Canada gets things under control we may not be able to move on because there are 330 million to the south who still are plagued.

    The Premier of Ontario has advised some health care workers may no longer work in the USA and Canada. I’m not a fan of Ford but he is so far ahead of trump……. some of us used to refer to Ford as trump light. Not any more. He is actually doing his job. He is actually listening to doctors. He’s trying. Trump just looks like he’s trying to kill Americans and their democracy. I don’t pray. Don’t believe it works Have been thinking of one of those books though which lists spells and how to cast them

    Again thank you for the article and to those who comment here. It has helped keep me “sane” while I’m out of commission with the fractured tibia

  10. Tom Marney says:

    If Trump died of an aneurysm or something, Pence would become president and things would muddle along pretty much as they are now, except that Jered Kushner would be gone within 48 hours.

    • e.a.f. says:

      Jared gone in 48 hrs. It’s a start
      Take the great job creator Ivanka with him , looking better
      Perhaps Guilliai will be kicked to the curb also. Better yet
      Just watched his presser. Omg why does the press even show up and why is CNN running this as if it were news. It’s not. It’s a Buffon waving his hands and lying.

      • P J Evans says:

        There’s a lot of pushing to have only the medical people covered live. The rest should be treated as political advertising.

  11. harpie says:

    Here’s Rep. Katie Porter putting some numbers together on PPE and ventilators:

    https://twitter.com/RepKatiePorter/status/1247318216583589889
    8:20 PM · Apr 6, 2020

    While I was sounding the alarm on #Covid_19, President Trump was encouraging companies to *increase* exports of medical supplies—as recently as the beginning of March. This and more in my new report on the Administration’s catastrophic mismanagement . [link]

    Links to [pdf]
    EVERYONE BUT US
    The Trump Administration and Medical Supply Exports
    Report by the Office of Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45) https://porter.house.gov/uploadedfiles/everyone_but_us.pdf
    April 6, 2020

    Summary Using previously unreported data, this report documents how President Trump has misapplied the Defense Production Act and mismanaged our nation’s supply of personal protective equipment and ventilators by exporting needed medical equipment in the face of the threat of COVID-19. The result is an American people who face the apex of this pandemic without life-saving medical equipment. […]

    The most painful [constituent] questions are those about the lack of personal protective equipment, ventilators, and necessary medications because those questions require speaking the painful truth: our President failed to take COVID-19 seriously until it was too late. Our nation exported lifesaving equipment, failed to harness our manufacturing prowess, and woefully underestimated the need to import additional supplies. I fear that it will be too late for many Americans who will fall gravely ill and for all our frontline workers who battle this pandemic without necessary equipment. […]

  12. Vicks says:

    I’m brainstorming mask making ideas because I would rather do that than work right now.
    I was checking to see if quilting squares would work, and my first click was an assortment of Dr. Seuss fabrics.
    That (obviously) led me to search for a the perfect quote for our situation from one of my all time favorite authors
    I found several, but then was distracted by #51
    “he who makes a beast out of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man”

  13. cutty sark says:

    Its time for Trump to bring in someone with the knowledge and experience to assist Kushner with rolling out this massive testing program – Elizabeth Holmes is a perfect fit for the job.

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