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The White House sets a testing goal but will it be nearly enough?

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Lindsey Leinbach looks at a coronavirus test swab at a facility in the Bronx, N.Y., on April 21, 2020.
A coronavirus testing facility in the Bronx, N.Y., on April 21. Lucas Jackson / Reuters file

WASHINGTON — The Trump White House says it’s ramping up for more coronavirus testing, but its new goal is significantly lower than what other experts have called for to truly reopen the economy in the midst of the pandemic.

To date, the United States has performed 5.6 million coronavirus tests, representing just 1.6 percent of the U.S. population.

On Monday, the Trump White House said it was ramping up testing, with one administration official telling NBC News that the goal is to test at least 2 percent of the population per state, per month.

“The testing is not going to be a problem at all,” President Trump said yesterday as the White House released its testing blueprint calling for cooperation between the federal government, the states and private businesses. “In fact, it’s going to be one of the great assets that we have.”

But let’s put that 2 percent per state/per month goal into perspective: For a state like California with a population of 40 million, that comes to 800,000 tests per month.

And for the United States’ entire population, it comes to about 7 million tests a month.

That’s certainly more than 5.6 million total tests to date since March.

But it’s significantly less than the 5 million tests per day that Harvard University's Edmond J. Safra Center on Ethics has called for by June — and 20 million per day to fully reopen the economy by August.

It’s also less than economist Paul Romer’s call for 25 million tests per day.

If you want Americans to travel on airlines, take public transit, eat out at restaurants, and shop in malls, is 2 percent of the population per month going to cut it?

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

994,569: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 22,088 more than yesterday morning.)

56,394: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 1,450 more than yesterday morning).

5.59 million: The number of coronavirus tests that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

Two days: The amount of time that passed between President Trump tweeting that his daily briefings were “not worth the time and effort” and his reappearance at one on Monday evening.

66 percent: The share of Americans who say that state restrictions on businesses to slow the spread of coronavirus are appropriate, according to a new Washington Post/University of Maryland poll.

65 percent: The share who back a temporary halt on nearly all immigration, according to the same poll.

Roughly half: The share of U.S. workers who may end up taking in more weekly funds from combined coronavirus relief efforts than they did at their jobs, per the Wall Street Journal.

Tweet of the day

2020 Vision: Sanders criticizes New York’s cancellation of its presidential primary

It’s definitely on-brand for the Bernie Sanders movement to protest the cancellation of a presidential primary contest after Sanders suspended his candidacy.

“Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign blasted the New York State Board of Elections’ announcement on Monday that his name would not appear on the ballot for the state's presidential primary in June, calling the move an ‘outrage’ and ‘a blow to American democracy,’” NBC’s Gary Grumbach and Dareh Gregorian write.

The campaign even said that New York should lose all of its delegates to the Democratic convention if the matter isn’t remedied.

But officials at the New York Board of Elections said they canceled the June 23 Democratic primary – though importantly not other intra-party contests — because it complied with a law the state passed earlier this month to remove candidates from the ballot who end their campaigns.

“What the Sanders campaign wanted is essentially a beauty contest that, given the situation with the public health emergency, seems to be unnecessary and, indeed, frivolous,” the board’s co-chair said, per the New York Times.

Ad Watch from Ben Kamisar: The Great Health Care War continues

Today’s Ad Watch comes from Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, one that’s been drifting right after being a heated battleground just a few years ago (and one home to some brutal attacks on the airwaves over the years).

Ann Ashford, who is running for the seat her husband held before he lost to incumbent GOP Rep. Don Bacon, is up with a new ad that takes on both Bacon and her Democratic rival on health care.

The spot hits Bacon for wanting to “repeal Obamacare” and Democrat Kara Eastman for supporting Medicare-for-All, which she calls a “fantasy” compared to her more “realistic plan.”

The swipes at both the left and the right are meant to position her in the middle of the spectrum ahead of a possible general election matchup with Bacon.

But she has to get through a primary first, and Eastman – the party’s nominee in 2018 – is taking the challenge head on in her own recent spot, where she says she learned from her grandfather to never be afraid of a fight.

May the 4th be with you

With a bipartisan deal or not, the House will vote on remote voting measures next week when the House is back in session. Per NBC’s Capitol Hill team, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced the House will be back on Monday May 4, and a Democratic aide said a taskforce is working to see if they can reach a bipartisan agreement to allow for remote voting. And if they can’t, the aide added, the House will move forward on a rules package that Democrats released last week.

And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is doing a little bit of backtracking from his comments that insinuated he wouldn’t be in favor of giving more financial assistance to states — and instead wanted them to declare bankruptcy.

In an interview on Fox News Radio, McConnell said, “There probably will be another state and local funding bill.” He added, “We do want to help them with expenses that are directly related to the coronavirus outbreak. But we're not interested in helping them fix age old problems that they haven't had the courage to fix in the past.”

The Lid: It’s up to you, New York, New York

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we looked at New York’s move to remove Bernie Sanders’ name from the presidential primary ballot.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

The Supreme Court declined to rule on a New York gun rights case, disappointing Second Amendment advocates.

Mike Bloomberg will pay his former staff through November after all.

Trump allies are increasingly pointing to an accusation of sexual assault leveled against Joe Biden by a former Senate aide.

Ohio is (finally) holding its primary today. Here’s one of the major races to watch.

Some Republicans fear that their party isn’t ready for the vote-by-mail battle that’s looming in November.