WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — President Trump invited his frequent coronavirus sparring partner, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to the White House Tuesday for a meeting over coronavirus testing.
“Earlier today, I had a very productive meeting with Gov. Cuomo, as you probably saw, to discuss his statewide testing strategy and how we can work together to help expand it with the goal of doubling testing in the next few weeks,” President Trump said during Tuesday’s White House coronavirus briefing.
In a phone call with MSNBC, Cuomo called his conversation with President Trump “functional and effective.” The governor avoided cameras at the White House, but earlier at his daily press briefing, Cuomo explained his up and down relationship with the president.
“He has no problem telling me when he disagrees, and he tells me when he agrees,” Cuomo said. “I have no problem telling him when I disagree and agree.”
Cuomo said the focus of the meeting would be on testing since it is the benchmark needed for reopening his state’s economy.
“You need to understand quickly who is in a better position to do what,” he said.
Cuomo and other governors across the country have gone back and forth with the president about who should be responsible for large-scale testing.
President Trump has said that it’s up to the states.
“The governors wanted to have total control over the opening of their states, but now they want to have us, the federal government, do the testing,” he said. “Again, testing is local. You can’t have it both ways. Testing is a local thing.”
Cuomo said he agrees that states should be in charge of testing since their labs fall under state regulations.
“I should be held responsible for making sure those 200 labs actually deploy across the state in a smart way,” he said. “Hold me responsible.”
However, Cuomo said the labs can’t do more tests because manufacturers have run out of materials, like cotton swabs and chemicals, that largely come from countries like China and South Korea. That’s where he wants help from President Trump.
“Let the federal government figure out international supply chain issues,” he said. “That’s the intelligent distribution of responsibility on testing.”
Instead of 50 calls from 50 governors, Cuomo hopes his one visit to the White House will get the federal government in gear to help the states get what they need for aggressive virus testing.
“I’m proud of the relationship my administration has forged with New York, I can say very honestly with New York state and New York City,” President Trump said. “They’ve been terrific to work with.”
Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.