WASHINGTON — Four key government health care officials said Tuesday that despite recent remarks from President Trump, they were never ordered to “slow down” diagnostic testing for Covid-19.

Their testimony at a congressional hearing came just three days after the president, at a campaign rally, told supporters that he had ordered a deceleration of Covid-19 testing. During a rally in Tulsa, Okla., Trump misleadingly escalated his long-standing claim that the high U.S. case count is simply a result of thorough testing.

“When you do testing to that extent, you’re gonna find more people, you’re gonna find more cases,” Trump said. “So I said to my people, ‘slow the testing down, please.’”

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White House aides quickly scrambled to downplay the remarks, insisting that the president was speaking in jest. Trump doubled down on Tuesday, however, telling a reporter “I don’t kid” and again referring to Covid-19 testing as a “double-edged sword.”

Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers alluded to the president’s remarks as they questioned the four federal witnesses, three of whom were appointed by Trump: Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease researcher; Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; assistant health secretary Brett Giroir; and Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

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Asked in turn whether Trump had directed them to slow down testing, each responded that he had not.

“To my knowledge, none of us have ever been told to slow down on testing — that just is a fact,” said Fauci. “In fact, we will be doing more testing … not only testing to specifically identify people [and] identify, isolate, and contact-trace, but also much more surveillance.”

He added: “It’s the opposite: We’re going to be doing more testing, not less.”

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Giroir echoed Fauci’s unequivocal denial in the face of aggressive questioning from Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), responding: “We want to do more testing, of higher quality.”

While the U.S. has conducted nearly 30 million Covid-19 tests, its per-capita testing rate still lags well behind that of peer nations including Spain, Russia, and the United Kingdom. Testing volumes, health experts say, do not come close to accounting for surging case totals in states including Florida, Texas, and Arizona.

It is also unclear whether Trump could slow testing by fiat even if he tried: Most testing is administered at a local level by health clinics, pharmacies, and individual doctor’s offices, and is not carried out within the federal government’s jurisdiction.

Nonetheless, Trump’s comments reflect his increasingly bold attempts to downplay the coronavirus crisis, which has killed roughly 120,000 Americans in the past four months. Public health experts have said the president’s false insistence Covid-19 is “dying out,” despite hard evidence to the contrary, could have dangerous public health ramifications.

  • All that the POTUS wants is to see the dollars roll like Covid never happened. He clearly needs baby-sitting, as is now happening. Fauci a.o. all have under-estimated Covid severity, but at least they care about the health of US citizens. Testing is key to curb the spread (now in southern states particularly). The US “leader” thinks less testing makes him look better, and that makes him guilty of what he accuses China and Russia of: attempt to artificially deflate the real numbers. Anyone with a brain can no longer take this crook serious: his mis-guidance is very dangerous to the US public.

    • You would have to test everyone everyday. You can be negative one day and then contract it the next day and be positive. So testing would need to be done every single day to see who is getting the virus and then there would be the need to find out all the contacts the infected have had.

      And these “experts” need to have one belief about this virus, rather than so many ideas about who gets it, first it was said it strikes the elderly and they die, I know a 92 year old lady who has not been able to walk for a year, lives in an assisted living facility, she contracted it, and she is fine. They also decided putting people on ventilators was the way to go, this dear lady’s dr told her family there was no way she was going to be intubated, instead she was on oxygen ( it is believed now many who died died from being on vents that were too powerful for their lung capacity). The “experts ” also have said over and over that most people who get coronavirus experience mild symptoms. Now they are claiming being on certain meds increases the chance for death. They also now claim blood type will indicate if you get a severe case or not. First they said getting the virus gives you immunity, now they say that immunity may not be long lasting, it may only protect the person for a couple months. They also said there will be a second wave of viruses in the fall but they believe schools and universities should open again, uhh illnesses in those environments spread like wildfire. They said this virus will in all probability mutate into an even worse virus, but now they are saying it has not been mutating. Cohesion please, all the same facts about the virus, not all these differing opinions and views.

  • Beware everyone! Notice how the previously unsocially distanced and non mask wearing Fraudci is (after only the sceptics were the ones pointing out that fact) now ‘The Mask Industry Pin-up’. Recognise you are being ‘Operantly Conditioned’ to accept that the wearing of masks is ‘The New Abnormal’. Of course he also can’t resist any opportunity to: “…identify, isolate, and contact-trace, but also much more surveillance.” The Police States that Imperial College London engineered around the globe (THEIR Globe NOT YOURS) owe him so much. Still, he might change his mind again, drop his mask (in more ways than one) and say, as he once did that Covid is /was “No worse than a bad case of flu”.

  • Can anyone please tell us how many seasonal flu cases and flu related deaths from the seasonal flu has occurred this year? I notice not one word is written or said about that. Now I did look at the CDC website and for the 2017/ 2018 flu season there were 61,000 deaths, so please do tell how many deaths so far for the 2019 /2020 seasonal flu, not corona, but the seasonal flus that hit every year. Or do the seasonal flu cases and deaths no longer matter, hmmmm

    • You fail to understand my logic bbon? I just noticed that in Feb they were writing about seasonal flu stats, then after that nothing was written. And you do realize seasonal flus can be deadly, people can go on ventilators, people can get all kinds of additional infections and reactions to the seasonal flu, you know that right?

      Uh where did I write coronavirus deaths do not matter period? Please show where I wrote that? I asked if the seasonal flu deaths don’t matter. I myself have looked at the CDC stats for the seasonal deaths worldwide for 2017 2018 and worldwide there were about the same number of seasonal flu deaths as corona virus deaths. But really bbon why so hostile? Hmmmm

  • apparently they have been sitting on a mostly unspent 14B$ budget for testing. So, it appears someone along the chain might have been told so.

  • A wonderful article. I really enjoy your articles. They are meaningful and contain reputable information.

  • Nothing about this regime’s response to the Covid pandemic is funny or laughable. It is no more responsible than joking about going to do plane hijackings.
    Going towards 130,000+ deaths by the end of June is pitiable!!

    • I am from the “other regime”, the one that pays for the late night leftist comedians screaming lost of F-words at the president, and the one regime organizing street riots across the US and the globe.

      You know, we are the funny bone guys. We enjoy when weak-minded people laugh at a queue.

  • STAT devotes column space a CLEARLY sarcastic OBVIOUSLY exaggerated comment that got laughs at a rally and drove partisans into a belligerent frenzy of sanctimony and absurd literalism. If someone says jokingly “Take my wife, please…” would you then seriously somberly ask them where should you take her? Does anyone in America this afternoon give two rips about an offhand joking comment made half a week ago? Bet you lot are a lot of fun at parties. If you are invited to any, that is.

  • This informative article well described this presidents lack of empathy towards the people he serves. It is easily answers how this virus has taken the lives of so many. When a negative reaction comes to the countless comments made by him he says he was only joking. The health professionals know far more than him, yet he mocks them. The numbers of americans that have contracted and those who have died from this virus are not funny. Perhaps refusing to wear a mask to protect others speak loudly of his ignorance of empathy. Thank you for your article.

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