Health experts and governors in a number of hard-hit states, including New York and New Jersey, have been insisting that much more widespread testing was needed before social distancing restrictions could be relaxed, even as President Trump has encouraged people in some states to rebel against lockdowns and governors considered easing social distancing restrictions.
“I’m not asking the federal government to do more than they need to,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said on Saturday. “But we do need their coordination. We need their partnership.”
Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey has said he would be “the happiest guy” if he were able to start reopening the state on June 1. But last week he told “Powerhouse Politics,” an ABC News podcast, that he and other governors in the region needed the federal government’s assistance to carry out broad testing and to trace the contact that infected people have had with others.
Data from New York and New Jersey appeared encouraging on Saturday. In both states, the curve of new infections appeared to be flattening or dropping. In New Jersey, the number of new cases and hospitalizations was leveling off, and New York reported its lowest daily death toll in more than two weeks, at 540.
But Mr. Cuomo emphasized the need for federal help to carry the widespread coronavirus testing that officials say is necessary to reopen New York’s economy. He and Mr. Trump have clashed over the level of federal aid given to the state, and the president has suggested that certain governors have not been demonstrably grateful for the aid.
Mr. Cuomo noted that 36 of New York’s newly reported deaths were at nursing homes, which he described as “the single biggest fear in all of this.” New Jersey’s health commissioner said 40 percent of the state’s 4,070 coronavirus-related deaths had occurred at long-term care facilities, which have been overwhelmed by the virus.
To reopen the country by mid-May, the Harvard estimates suggest that 500,000 to 700,000 tests a day would be needed in order to identify most people who are infected and isolate them from people who are healthy.