Still No Widespread COVID-19 Testing, But the Fed Has a $500 Billion Bank Stimulus | GQ

Last week, in his first public address on the COVID-19 outbreak, Donald Trump announced that “anyone who wants a test can get a test.” That’s a far cry from reality. The U.S. is lagging behind most other countries in testing, both per capita and in raw numbers, with less than 10,000 people tested and 1,400 confirmed cases in 45 states. In comparison, South Korea has developed a network of 96 public and private labs that is testing up to 20,000 people each day, and the blood of recovered patients is being used to help develop a vaccine.

On Thursday, Trump remained upbeat and congratulatory, despite these facts, saying, “Frankly, the testing has been going very smooth. If you go to the right agency, if you go to the right area, you get the test.” There’s no telling what Trump thinks he means by “the right agency” and “right area,” but Republican senators aren’t nearly as optimistic or unrealistic as Trump. After a closed-door briefing with U.S. health officials, senator James Lankford of Oklahoma told POLITICO the U.S. is still two weeks away from widespread COVID-19 testing, and senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee—who single-handedly shut down an emergency paid sick leave bill on Thursday—said the U.S. is clearly “not the best equipped nation in terms of testing.”

Meanwhile, coronavirus testing is expected to cost anywhere from $1,331 to $2,400 per test.

The Trump administration appears much more concerned with getting the stock market on track though. Donald Trump’s bizarre decision to cut off travel to the U.S. from Europe—a move that won’t accomplish much since the outbreak is already spreading in the U.S.—caused the Dow Jones and S&P 500 to drop dramatically. Now, to counteract that, the Federal Reserve has announced an astonishing $1.5 trillion stimulus, more than double the $700 billion bank bailout of 2008, to keep the market from dropping further. In a statement, the Fed said this was in response to the “highly unusual disruptions in Treasury financing markets associated with the coronavirus outbreak.” The first $500 billion—six entire years of tuition-free public college nationwide—went to the banking industry Thursday with another two rounds planned for the near future.

The Fed announced this stimulus even as the Trump administration is trying to push further cuts on the Centers for Disease Control. Russ Vought, the acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, doubled down on the proposed 2021 budget in front of Congress on Tuesday, a $9.5 billion cut to Health and Human Services, which includes a 15 percent cut of $1.2 billion to the CDC and a cut of $35 million to the Infectious Diseases Rapid Response Reserve Fund. This comes after the CDC was already forced to cut 80 percent of its budget for preventing global disease outbreak.

On news of the stimulus, the Dow Jones rebounded slightly, stabilizing for about 20 minutes or so. It plunged again before market closed though, ending with a loss of 10 percent, its single worst day since the 1987 stock market crash.

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