President Trump said Monday that the US is doing “too good of a job” on coronavirus testing, making the outbreak appear worse than it is in other countries.
Trump made the remark in an interview as aides brushed off as a joke Trump’s Saturday Tulsa rally comment that he ordered a COVID-19 test slowdown.
The president did not directly answer when Scripps journalist Joe St. George asked if he actually ordered a slowdown.
“If it did slow down, frankly, I think we’re way ahead of ourselves, if you want to know the truth. We’ve done too good of a job,” Trump said. “Because every time we go with 25 million tests, you’re gonna find more people, so then they say, ‘Oh, we have more cases in the United States.’ The reason we have more cases is because we do more testing than any other country by far.”
Over the weekend, Trump told a rally audience in Oklahoma, “I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’ They test and they test.”
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said the rally remark “was tongue in cheek.”
“He was joking about the media and their failure to understand the fact that when you test more, you also find more cases,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at a press briefing on Monday.
McEnany said that “any suggestion that testing has been curtailed is not rooted in fact.”
According to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University, the US has performed the most coronavirus tests, finding about 2.3 million infections that contributed to at least 120,000 deaths.
The US daily per-capita testing rate — 55 per 100,000 residents — is about four times the rate in Brazil, which has the world’s next-highest number of infections at more than 1 million. But Russia, which has the third-highest number of cases at around 600,000, reported testing almost twice as many people per capita.
As of Monday, Australia, Spain and Singapore also have higher per-capita testing rates, according to the data.
Trump also told Scripps that he would push for a fifth major coronavirus legislative package that will include more direct checks to stimulate the economy.
“Yeah, we are — we are,” Trump said of stimulus checks to people, which both Democrats and many Republicans on Capitol Hill support.
“We will be doing another stimulus package. It’ll be very good. It’ll be very generous,” Trump said. “I think it’s going to be bipartisan. I think it’s going to be over the next couple of weeks, probably.”