His current job is assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). That puts him in the room with HHS Secretary Alex Azar on all decisions. He also oversees the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, “an elite team of more than 6,000 well-trained, highly qualified public health professionals dedicated to delivering the nation’s public health promotion and disease prevention programs and advancing public health science,” according to its website. He got the testing czar job on March 23, a week after Trump came out with the infamous “anybody that wants a test can get a test” lie. As we have seen in the intervening five weeks, we don’t have testing for everyone who wants one. Or everyone who needs one.
Giroir is mostly an unknown entity to governors who are trying to coordinate these tests. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was asked about Giroir last week by his brother, Chris Cuomo, on his CNN show. Asked about the man “in charge of the most important component” of the virus response, Gov. Cuomo responded: “I’ll take your word that he exists, but I wouldn’t know otherwise.” That’s a better summation than Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s, who said on NPR last week “the truth is that the federal government has really been more of a hindrance than a help in most of the testing issues.”
Giroir spoke with the Post for the story and says he’s been on task force calls with the governors, so it’s “he said, he said” but you can probably determine for yourself who you’re more likely to believe. Giroir also said that anyone who “needs a test” can get one. Which is news to lots of people who are in essential jobs and are exposed to the public and haven’t been able to be tested. It all depends on how you define “need,” apparently. “That does not mean at this point in time that anyone who wants a test gets a test,” Giroir continued. “There may be tens of millions of people who want a test, but they really have no indication [of the virus] for that test.”
Presumably that means if you have symptoms. Never mind that until there’s widespread testing those asymptomatic people we’ve been hearing so much about could be out there infecting others with no way of knowing it, prolonging the duration of the disease. Giroir does acknowledge that testing needs to be ramped up to 6 to 8 million from the current capacity of 3.5 million per month. He promises that the capacity for doing that is increasing. He also promises that “tens of millions” of serology tests will be available in a few weeks’ time to enable people to know if they’ve had the virus.
Put a pin in that promise and come back to it in the first week of May, because it seems pretty damned likely to be just another empty boast from just another disastrous Trump official.