After President Donald Trump said during his Tulsa campaign rally that he called for a slowdown in coronavirus testing, White House officials insisted the president was joking. Monday, Trump confirmed he was serious, according to CBS News.
What Trump said Saturday: “When you do testing to that extent you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find cases. So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’ They test and they test. We got tests for people who don’t know what’s going on.”
How White House officials explained it: According to Yahoo News, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the president was using sarcasm to make a point. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said the remarks were “tongue-in-cheek.” An unnamed White House official told CBS News the comments were “in jest.”
What Trump said Monday: CBS News reporter Weijia Jiang asked President Trump on Monday about whether he meant what he said at the rally.
“Mr. President, at that rally, when you said you asked your people to slow down testing, were you just kidding or do you have a plan to slow down testing?” Jiang asked.
“I don’t kid,” Trump replied. “Let me just tell you — let me make it clear: We have got the greatest testing program anywhere in the world. We test better than anybody in the world. Our tests are the best in the world, and we have the most of them.”
Scripps reporter Joe St. George also asked Trump about the comment. He avoided directly answering whether he ordered a slowdown, and seemed to lament the fact that increased testing was inflating the number of cases with asymptomatic people and those at little or no risk of serious illness.
Dr. Anthony Fauci testified before Congress on Monday and said he had no knowledge of President Trump ordering a slowdown on testing, and expressed concern about increasing positivity rates in some areas.
“In fact, we will be doing more testing,” Fauci said.