President Donald Trump declared a national emergency Friday afternoon, in doing so unlocking $50 billion to help contain and fight the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to the funding, plans will soon be unveiled to allow anyone an opportunity to be tested if they're concerned they have COVID-19.
Details are quite limited at this point, but Trump and Vice President Mike Pence said more concrete explanation of how the new testing system is going to work will be unveiled Sunday night. In short, here's what's happening:
- Google is building a screening website.
- Anyone can create an account on the site.
- Fill out a questionnaire about your symptoms.
- Then be instructed where the nearest "drive thru" testing clinic is located.
- Get tested without getting out of your vehicle.
- Test results available on the website within 24 hours.
Trump said many of the drive thru test sites will be located in Walmart parking lots, in addition to parking lots of other businesses across the country.
There have been dozens of Minnesotans to have told stories of going to their health care provider and not getting tested for COVID-19 because they don't meet the necessary criteria, which due to a lack of testing available, has typically been limited to those who have traveled to a COVID-19 hot spot, or those who made contact with a person with a confirmed case of the disease.
It remains unclear what the new screening website's questionnaire will ask, nor is it clear if all persons who hope to get a test will be approved.
“We don’t want people taking a test if we feel they shouldn’t be doing it," said Trump, adding that "it's totally unnecessary."
Trump's words of unnecessary testing is the opposite of what experts from the World Health Organization and infectious disease experts around the globe are saying, which is that robust testing is the best way to combat the pandemic, as has been seen in South Korea where approximately 10,000 tests are conducted per day.
As of March 13, only 555 tests have been conducted in Minnesota, with 14 cases of confirmed COVID-19, including two patients who are hospitalized.
We'll provide more information about the drive thru testing capabilities once the government releases detailed plans.