Trump's press secretary claims he was 'jesting' about slowing down testing so US case numbers fall

James Besanvalle
Tuesday 23 June 2020 10:45

Time and time again, Donald Trump has claimed that if the US tested fewer people for coronavirus, they wouldn’t have such high numbers.

Last month, Trump said:

When you test, you have a case. When you test, you find something is wrong with people. If we didn't do any testing we would have very few cases.

Early on Tuesday morning, Trump then tweeted:

But just a couple of days ago, he went a little bit further – suggesting he told his “people” to “slow the testing down please”:

When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people – you’re going to find more cases.

So I said to my people: ‘Slow the testing down please!’ They test and they test. We had tests of people who don’t know what’s going on.

After being asked to clarify Trump’s recent claim he slowed down testing, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany alleged he only said it “in jest”:

It was a comment that he made in jest. It was a comment that he made in passing. Specifically in regard to the media coverage and pointing out the fact that the media never acknowledges that we have more cases because when you test more people, you find more cases.

Keen to move on to a different question, McEnany looks away to a different reporter but the original questioner has a follow-up:

Is it appropriate to joke about coronavirus when 120,000 people have died?

Clarifying her previous remark, the press secretary added:

He was not joking about coronavirus. I just said he was joking about the media and their failure to understand the fact that when you test more people, you also find more cases.

But then Trump was asked directly about whether or not he asked to slow down coronavirus testing.

He responded:

If it did slow down, frankly, I think we’re way ahead of ourselves, if you wanna know the truth. We’ve done too good of a job.

At the time of writing and according to the CDC, the US has reported a total of 27,317,035 coronavirus tests.

Around 10 per cent of these tests have come back positive for the virus and over 122,000 people have died across the country.