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Jennifer Rubin 19 hrs ago, Washington Post

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

One does not need to be a professional pollster to understand that American voters want the federal government to stop shifting responsibility to the states for testing and that they are not enamored with the race to reopen the economy when conditions do not warrant doing so.

The latest Pew poll shows that “a majority of Americans (61%) say it is primarily the federal government’s responsibility to make sure there are enough COVID-19 tests in order to safely lift the restrictions.” That captures two concepts: It’s the feds’ job, and you need testing to reopen. Local hospitals and medical professionals rate the highest on their pandemic response (88 percent), while public health officials such as those at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also do extremely well (72 percent). President Trump gets 41 percent.

Republicans, meanwhile, seem loath to believe that the virus is a big deal:

Within the most and least heavily impacted counties, sizable partisan differences remain, particularly in views of the impact of the coronavirus on people’s health. Democrats overall are 20 percentage points more likely than Republicans to view the coronavirus outbreak as a major threat to their personal health; these differences persist in counties most impacted by the outbreak as well as those less affected. Among Republicans in the most impacted counties, 34% see the coronavirus as a major threat to their health; that is much lower than the share of Democrats in the least affected counties who say this (48%).

Republicans, it seems, think it’s fine to let the states deal with the crisis. What we do not know is whether this will change if premature openings in red states fuel a spate of cases. Nevertheless, it is much more politically popular to tread carefully, as illustrated by the Post-Ipsos poll: “While the average approval rating for governors is 71 percent, it goes as high as 86 percent for Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R), and it’s significantly lower in a trio of big states in which GOP governors have been slower on stay-at-home orders and more aggressive on reopening: Florida, Georgia and Texas.”

One reason voters are wary of opening too fast might be that health officials (whom they respect) and now even Republican senators are zeroing in on the necessity of testing before we launch back into full economic activity. The Post reports, “Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, warned of avoidable ‘suffering and death’ and of further economic damage if states reopen too quickly and said the U.S. death toll from the novel coronavirus is probably higher than the 80,000 reported.”

In a hearing before the Republican-led Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Tuesday, Fauci, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) all took issue with the notion that we have “prevailed” on testing. “It’s the ability and the capability of responding to those cases with good identification, isolation and contact tracing [that] will determine whether you can continue to go forward as you try to reopen America,” Fauci said. Without robust testing, we are risking many more deaths. (Alexander echoed that sentiment: “All roads back to work and back to school lead through testing, tracking, isolation, treatment and vaccines.”)

As Trump encourages businesses to open up and exaggerates the sufficiency of testing, House Democrats are lining up with public opinion. In their next proposed pandemic-related bill, they throw in $75 billion for “coronavirus testing, contact tracing and isolation measures, ensuring every American can access free coronavirus treatment, and supporting hospitals and providers,” as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced in a press release on Tuesday. “That is three times the amount allocated for testing in the first CARES package.”

In interviews, Pelosi frequently notes that “testing, testing, testing” and “science, science, science” are the way to restore the country’s health and economic vitality. Another one of her favorite sayings: “Public sentiment is everything. With it, you can accomplish almost anything. Without it, you can accomplish virtually nothing.” In this case — on testing as a precondition to restarting nonessential economic activity and on the feds’ responsibility for it — she has it squarely on her side.


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Read more:

Jennifer Rubin: Which came first: The rotten polls or the raving?

The Post’s View: The patchwork of state reopenings is a deadly game of trial and error

Joe Biden: How the White House coronavirus response presents us with a false choice

Eugene Robinson: 80,000 Americans have died. Trump is still engaged in magical thinking.

Michael Gerson: Trump’s tweets are a strategy of distraction to obscure a policy of abdication

The Post’s View: The coronavirus spreads in close quarters. That should factor into reopening decisions.

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