On a visit to Minnesota as part of his administration's effort to contain the coronavirus, Vice President Mike Pence admitted the government has a shortfall of testing kits for the disease.
The vice president made the remarks at 3M's headquarters in Maplewood, with the Minnesota company having been contracted by the federal government to increase their production of face masks that could help prevent the spread of Covid-19.
"We don't have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward," Pence told reporters as he answered questions alongside Gov. Tim Walz.
It comes amid confusion at the federal level over the nation's ability to test for the virus, with Pence's comments suggesting the country is playing catchup as it seeks to contain the outbreak.
Pence had previously said they would have the ability to test 1.5 million people by the end of this week, though CNN has reported that Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said there would be capacity to test 475,000 this week, and hopefully enough to test 1-1.5 million by the end of next week.
Other countries including China, South Korea, Italy and the U.K. have been able to test tens or even hundreds of thousands of residents since the outbreak, but there remains confusion over how many testing kits are available in the U.S.
The CDC had been posting a tally of the number of Americans tested for Covid-19 and on Monday that figure was at 472. The tally has since been taken down so it's unknown how many tests have now been carried out.
There was also the issue that many of the original testing kits sent out by the CDC were defective and had to be replaced. At one point, only five states had the ability to test for the virus. The few tests that have been carried out in Minnesota had to be sent to the CDC for analysis.
Earlier this week, Pence broadened the scope for testing for the virus. Previously, only those who had been hospitalized with a fever or respiratory problems, or who had been in contact with a confirmed coronavirus patient, had been permitted to get tested.
That's now been expanded to include anyone with a doctor's order to be tested.