Coronavirus: Not enough tests to meet demand, Pence admits after saying 'every American can be tested'

'We don’t have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward'

Press Secretary for Mike Pence scolds reporter for asking about Coronavirus

Vice President Mike Pence acknowledged on Thursday there were not enough tests available to meet the demand amid a coronavirus outbreak spreading in the US, after previously saying “every American can be tested” for the deadly illness.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Mr Pence said: "We don’t have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward."

But just yesterday, the vice president — who Donald Trump tasked with overseeing his administration’s response to the outbreak of the deadly illness — reassured Americans that anyone would be able to get tested regardless of whether they had health insurance.

"With regard to the cost, let me be very clear," Mr Pence said on Wednesday at a White House briefing. He then said the Health and Human Services Department "has designated the coronavirus test as an essential health benefit."

"That means by definition, it's covered in the private health insurance of every American as well as covered by Medicare and Medicaid," the vice president said.

The vice president seemingly walked back those comments after meeting with health officials at the White house, as well as attending a visit with a company that makes face masks being used to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Pence said federal officials would “lean into” the battle against the Wuhan coronavirus after the death toll rose to more than 3,200 worldwide, with the majority of those cases occurring in China.

“You should know we’re ready and we’re going to continue to bring the full resources of the federal government to bear to confront the spread of the coronavirus in the United States,” he said.

Mr Pence also told Americans they have “no need to buy a mask” unless they are already ill.

That messaging appeared to echo Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who told Fox News: “My advice to folks: Stop buying masks if you’re part of the general public. Leave them for the health care providers so they can take care of people who are sick.”

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