Trump says he'll help New York's Cuomo boost virus testing

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Vice President Mike Pence, right, and President Donald Trump watch a video of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaking during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House, Sunday, April 19, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WASHINGTON – Setting aside their differences for at least an afternoon, President Donald Trump and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo agreed in an Oval Office meeting Tuesday to work to double coronavirus testing in the hard-hit state over the next few weeks.

“We will work together to help them secure additional tests,” Trump said. “And we hope that this model will work with the other states as well.”

Flicking at the hot-and-cold relationship between the two politicians, Cuomo said of their meeting: “It ends the whole back-and-forth and the finger-pointing in a very fair and smart way.”

The meeting marked a sharp shift in rhetoric from just days earlier, when Trump had called on Cuomo to work harder to secure testing material for his state and the Democratic governor had pushed back that the president should turn off his television and get back to work.

Cuomo, who described the meeting as "effective and functional,” said he told Trump a rapid increase in testing was a crucial “benchmark” that his state and others need before they can safely reopen their economies and help communities return to a semblance of normalcy.

Trump and Cuomo have parried through the media throughout the pandemic, a routine that has included insults, sharply contrasting views on the role of the federal government and some moments of mutual admiration.

The meeting Tuesday was their first face-to-face interaction since the global crisis began. New York, with more than 14,000 deaths, has been the hardest-hit state in the country.

Before their meeting, Cuomo told reporters that Trump was right in saying that “states should take the lead” on testing, but that the federal government needs to manage the flow of supplies from abroad while governors are “trying to put together their testing protocol in their state.”