The White House has acknowledged the nation does not have enough coronavirus test kits as cases of the disease ticked upwards on both US coasts.
Vice-President Mike Pence said the Trump administration would not be able to meet its objective of delivering one million testing kits this week. At a press briefing on Monday, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephan Hahn said close to a million tests would be ready by the end of this week.
But Vice-President Pence – who is coordinating the US response to the outbreak – conceded on Thursday that that target would not be met.
“We don’t have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward,” Mr Pence said during a visit to a factory in Minnesota.
Speaking in Washington state in the evening, Mr Pence said: “We still have some ways to go to ensure that tests are available.”
But he said that by the end of next week the US government’s diagnostic supplier would distribute kits across the country that would enable 1.2 million Americans to be tested for coronavirus.
But health experts fear the virus may be spreading undetected in US communities because of a lack of testing kits.
Meanwhile Congress moved with unusual speed to approve a bumper emergency aid package to combat the outbreak. The president is expected to sign an $8.3bn (£6.4bn) funding bill passed 96-1 by the US Senate on Thursday. It is intended to help state and local governments combat the coronavirus.
Globally, authorities have confirmed more than 92,000 cases of the virus.
The vast majority – 80,552 – are in China, where the virus originated. To date, 3,042 people have died in the country.
The US death toll from the coronavirus climbed to 12 on Thursday, with all but one of the victims in the north-western US state of Washington.
There are now more than 200 cases of Covid-19 in 20 states.
A cruise ship, the Grand Princess, remains off the California coast while passengers are tested for the virus.