President Donald Trump is insisting he was not joking when he recently suggested he told officials that the United States should slow down testing for coronavirus.
Prior to his departure for Arizona on Tuesday morning, Trump briefly spoke with reporters where he confirmed that he was not kidding when he claimed at a recent rally that he suggested slowing COVID-19 testing.
One reporter asked, “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?”
Trump responded saying, “I don’t kid. 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.”
The president went on to boast about the United States testing capacity, saying, “By having more tests, we find more cases. We did 25-plus — 25 million tests. Think of that: 25 million. If you look at other countries, they did 1 million, 2 million, 3 million. Big countries. We did 25 million. Way more by double, triple, quadruple any other country.”
Trump further defended his remarks as he explained why he believes having more cases is problematic.
See Trump’s remarks below:
NEW: Asked whether he was kidding when he claimed at his Tulsa rally he had instructed officials to slow down COVID-19 testing, Pres. Trump says, "I don't kid."
— ABC News (@ABC) June 23, 2020
He continued, “Therefore, with tests, we’re going to have more cases. By having more cases, it sounds bad, but actually what it is, is we’re finding people. Many of those people aren’t sick or very little. You know, they may be young people.”
Despite the sharp surge in positive coronavirus tests in several states, Trump still insists the mortality rate is relatively low.
When asked specifically if he wanted testing to slow down, the president avoided offering a direct answer to the question.
Instead, he said, “Other countries do very little testing by comparison. So we’re going to do, this year, right now — up until yesterday, I think they told me, we’re over 25 million tests. Other countries are at 2 million, 3 million.”
Trump’s latest remarks come just days after his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he said, “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.”
During the rally, the president discussed the pandemic, his travel ban, and coronavirus testing.
On Monday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany press briefing defended the president amid scrutiny about the testing remarks during the rally.
McEnany claimed the president was joking as she specifically said the comments were made “in jest,” as previously reported on IJR.
“It was a comment that he made in jest,” McEnany said. “It was a comment that he made in passing.”
As of Tuesday morning, there are more than 2.3 million positive coronavirus cases in the United States.
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