President 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, Okla., 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, the AP reports. “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,” he said, 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.” 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 that states should be focusing resources on “hard to test” communities and that counties with high positivity rates should be saturated with more testing.
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