White House officials are pushing back against criticism over some of President Donald Trump’s comments about coronavirus testing that he made during his campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
During the rally, Trump said he asked officials to “slow the testing down,” as IJR reported. While those comments received criticism, White House officials claimed Trump meant the comment as a joke.
CNN’s Jake Tapper pressed White House trade adviser Peter Navarro on Trump’s comments during an interview on “State of the Union.”
“C’mon now, Jake, that was tongue in cheek,” Navarro said after Tapper played a clip from the rally.
Tapper shot back, “I don’t know that it was tongue in cheek at all.”
He added, “He has said similar things for months.”
But Navarro maintained that “it was a light moment” and asked to move on to a different topic.
“I’m not sure that a deadly pandemic, where almost 120,000 Americans died, is really a good subject for a ‘light moment,'” Tapper said.
Watch the video below:
White House adviser Peter Navarro calls President Trump's claims he ordered officials in his administration to slow down coronavirus testing "tongue and cheek" and "a light moment." #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/1p1HV9IK6Y
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) June 21, 2020
During his rally on Saturday night, Trump said, “When you do testing to that extent you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases.”
“So I said to my people, slow the testing down, please. They test, and they test, we got tests, and people don’t know what’s going on,” he added.
As Tapper noted, Trump has previously suggested that testing is “overrated.”
Last week, Trump said, “If we stop testing right now, we’d have very few cases if any.”
And in May, Trump said, “When you test, you have a case. When you test, you find something is wrong with people. If we didn’t do any testing, we would have very few cases. They don’t want to write that. It’s common sense. We test much more.”
Despite Trump’s comments, the number of testing being conducted across the country on a daily basis has increased substantially since February.
In recent weeks, the U.S. has been conducting between 400,000 and 500,000 tests per day.
However, some health experts say that for a country the size of the U.S. there should be millions of coronavirus conducted per day.
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