Trump: US doing ‘too good a job’ on testing

Trump: US doing ‘too good a job’ on testing

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Monday the United States has done “too good a job” on testing for cases of COVID-19, even as his staff insisted the president was only joking when he said over the weekend that he had instructed aides to “slow the testing down, please.”

The president’s comments at a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday brought quick rebukes from the campaign of likely Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as well as scores of Democratic lawmakers.

In an interview with Scripps for its local TV stations, Trump was asked Monday whether he did indeed tell aides to “slow it down.” He did not directly answer the question.

“If it did slow down, frankly, I think we’re way ahead of ourselves, if you want to know the truth,” Trump said. “We’ve done too good a job,” adding that the reason the United States has more coronavirus cases is that it does more testing.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said any suggestion that testing has been curtailed is not rooted in fact, saying Trump made the slow-it-down comment “in jest.”

She said that Trump’s comments were an effort to criticize the media for its coverage of the coronavirus and its “failure” to understand that “when you test more, you also find more cases.”

However, the U.S. is seeing disturbing trends in several benchmarks, including the percentage of tests that prove positive for the virus.

Health officials say that testing in the United States early on was insufficient for optimal containment. In early March, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, testified that the nation’s testing system was “not really geared to what we need right now” and added, “it is a failing. Let’s admit it.”

But now, about a half-million people per day are being tested, and the president and his aides have been repeatedly touting the United States as leading the world in testing.

Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak of Nevada told Vice-President Mike Pence in a conference call with governors on Monday that the president’s comments were not helpful and wanted assurances there is not a federal mandate to slow down testing. Pence told Sisolak and other governors on the call that the administration looked forward to continuing to partner with them on testing.

The administration also stressed to governors on the call that states should be focusing resources on “hard to test” communities and that counties with high positivity rates should be saturated with more testing.

Lawmakers are expected to have several questions about testing and the president’s comments on Tuesday when members of the administration’s coronavirus task force testify at a House hearing.

“The American people are owed answers about why President Trump wants less testing when experts say much more is needed,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson called Trump’s rally remarks on discouraging testing “somewhat of a flippant comment” and said it’s not in line with what he’s heard from the administration.

“It’s clear the national policy is to expand testing,” said Hutchinson, a Republican. “There again, you have to look at what is the action, what is the true policy versus just what the words are.”

The United States has confirmed nearly 2.3 million COVID-19 cases, which represents about a quarter of the world’s cases. More than 120,000 people in the U.S. with COVID-19 have died. The next closest nation is Brazil, with 50,600 deaths.

___

Associated Press staff writers Michelle Price in Las Vegas, Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Wash., and Andrew DeMillo in Little Rock, Ark., contributed to this report.

Kevin Freking, The Associated Press

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

"We are looking seriously at the spread and determining what our next steps should be," says Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, as the daily number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.
427 new COVID cases is highest in Alberta ever

Central zone has 126 active cases of COVID-19

Keaton Wildeboer, of Lacombe, participates in the Westerner Championship Dairy Showcase at Westerner Park on Thursday. More than 150 cattle will be on display at the event, which continues until Saturday, carrying on a tradition started in 1954. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Western Canada’s first dairy showcase since last fall begins in Red Deer

Western Canada’s first dairy showcase since last fall is currently being held… Continue reading

Car thief opening stolen car doors. 
(Black Press File Image)
Idling vehicles attracting thieves, RCMP warns

About one-third of stolen vehicles left idling unattended

Police reveal a collection of drugs, cash and guns seized in an April 2016 bust. One of the men charged was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday.
Advocate file photo
Red Deer man sentenced to 27 months for role in “dial-a-dope” operation

RCMP Priority Crimes Task Force broke up drug operation in April 2016 after four-month investigation

Red Deer RCMP say a 30-year-old man faces sexual charges against a teen. (File photo by Advocate staff)
RCMP’s downtown traffic stops lead to charges

Two traffic stops conducted by Red Deer RCMP officers on bike patrol… Continue reading

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives for an announcement at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020.	Kenney is isolating at home after one of his ministers tested positive for COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Alberta premier isolating after minister tests positive for COVID-19

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is isolating at home

New York Giants' Evan Engram (88) tumbles after trying to leap over Philadelphia Eagles' Cre'Von LeBlanc (34) as Josh Sweat (94) defends during the second half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)
Carson Wentz rallies Eagles to 22-21 win over Giants

Carson Wentz rallies Eagles to 22-21 win over Giants

North Carolina State safety Jakeen Harris (6) tackles Virginia wide receiver Terrell Jana (13) during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020, at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, Va. Jana's last name doesn't appear on the back of his Virginia Cavaliers football jersey as a tribute to enslaved labourers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, The Daily Progress, Erin Edgerton
Canadian receiver Jana’s name missing from jersey to honour enslaved labourers

Canadian receiver Jana’s name missing from jersey to honour enslaved labourers

Tiger Woods hits from the 11th tee during the first round of the Zozo Championship golf tournament Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Munoz in the lead and Woods with his worst score at Sherwood

Munoz in the lead and Woods with his worst score at Sherwood

The national anthem is performed ahead of the inaugural soccer match of the Canadian Premier League between Forge FC of Hamilton and York 9 in Hamilton, Ont. Saturday, April 27, 2019. Canadian Premier League champion Forge FC takes on El Salvador's CD Municipal Limeno in a CONCACAF League preliminary-round match Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Lynett
Forge FC scores late to win CONCACAF League preliminary-round game in El Salvador

Forge FC scores late to win CONCACAF League preliminary-round game in El Salvador

NHL cancels 2021 Minnesota Winter Classic, All-Star Weekend

NHL cancels 2021 Minnesota Winter Classic, All-Star Weekend

FILE - In this Jan. 24, 2020, file photo, Mariah Bell performs her senior women's free skate program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, in Greensboro, N.C. When U.S. skaters and a few foreigners training in this country kick off the season at Skate America this weekend, it could be a rare opportunity to display their wares. So they will relish the chance to get on the ice for competition, knowing that two Grand Prix series events and the Grand Prix Final have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, and prospects of national and word championships being held are uncertain.(AP Photo/Lynn Hey, File)
Skate America opens shortened, coronavirus-impacted season

Skate America opens shortened, coronavirus-impacted season

Kang, Song share lead in LPGA Drive On Championship

Kang, Song share lead in LPGA Drive On Championship

Vegas Golden Knights' Alec Martinez (23) is checked by Vancouver Canucks' Jake Virtanen (18) during first period NHL Western Conference Stanley Cup playoff action in Edmonton on August 23, 2020. The Canucks have signed Virtanen to a two-year contract with an average annual value of US$2.55 million. Virtanen had 36 points and 41 penalty minutes in 69 games in the 2019-20 season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Forward Jake Virtanen signs new two-year deal with hometown Vancouver Canucks

Forward Jake Virtanen signs new two-year deal with hometown Vancouver Canucks

Most Read