WASHINGTON — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he had a “functional and effective” conversation with President Donald Trump Tuesday, in which he pressed the need for the federal government to work with states to improve the availability to coronavirus testing.
Cuomo said he told Trump during their meeting in the Oval Office that a rapid increase in available testing was a crucial “benchmark” that his state and others need to achieve to safely reopen the economy and help their communities return to a semblance of normalcy.
The meeting Tuesday was their first face-to-face interaction since the global crisis began.
In his daily press briefing, Trump called the meeting with Cuomo “productive,” said said he was proud of his administration’s relationship with both New York state and New York City government.
Trump said they agreed on a goal of doubling testing in next few weeks, with the state controlling testing and managing state and local labs. The federal government will work, along with the state, on plans with national manufacturers and distributors.
The president said he and Cuomo had an “understanding,” and opes this model will work with other states as well.
Trump touted the PPE and hospital equipment that the administration has sent to the New York City area, including 5 million masks and thousands of ventilators, some of which Cuomo will not send to other states that may have more of a need as the pandemic continues to make its way throughout the nation.
The president also said the USNS Comfort, the ship sent to New York to provide additional hospital beds and medical resources, will soon return to Virginia to prepare for its next assignment, with the need no longer pressing for it to remain in New York.
The news of the testing partnership is almost exactly what Cuomo had previously said he wanted from the federal government.
Monday, Cuomo said he sided with Trump on the issue of testing being a state responsibility, but said the federal government can and should help.
“The president is right,” said Cuomo. “Testing is up to the states.”
But, he said securing adequate supplies of testing materials has been a steep challenge.
“I want the federal government to help on those supply chain issues.”
It appears as though that will become a reality.