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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi admitted Thursday that she has not been tested for coronavirus, nor has she been tested for antibodies to determine if she had previously been infected.
Pelosi was asked about her testing status during a weekly press briefing, during which she espoused the significance of widespread testing in helping get the pandemic under control, after 1.7 million people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and more than 100,000 have died.
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“There has to be a stop to this. The answer is testing,” Pelosi said. “We have in our HEROES Act a plan for testing. Testing to open up our economy, testing to open up our schools, testing to heal. But in order to heal we have to know the gravity of the problem.”
Pelosi continued to emphasize how, in the absence of a cure, testing is vital to combating the spread of the illness.
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“You know we talk a great deal about a vaccine and a cure,” she said. “But we don’t have it yet. And we do have testing.” Pelosi cited other countries that have used testing, tracing, treatment, and isolation to address the pandemic, stating that this is what the U.S. should have been doing.
Later in the briefing, Pelosi was asked if she herself had been tested, or if she had ever been tested for antibodies.
“No,” she said to both.
Pelosi gave two reasons for why she had not been tested.
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“For a while there was a scarcity of tests, and the fact is we didn’t want to be first in line to get tested,” Pelosi said, discussing how the idea of getting tested was discussed after she had been in the presence of Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., who had exhibited COVID-19 symptoms. Pelosi said that the bill she is currently pushing would provide for more widespread testing.
Pelosi also said that she asked a doctor about getting tested at that time, and the doctor said no because she had not shown any symptoms. She later acknowledged that people can still be contagious even if they do not show symptoms, and therefore asymptomatic people should still be able to get tested.