According to a report from the Daily Beast, two officials working Donald Trump's administration said the president's claim he wanted COVID-19 testing in the U.S. to be slowed down matched up with what they witnessed while working on the White House task force.
As one state health official who worked with the White House confessed, "I always feared this was what was happening.”
“You know testing is a double-edged sword,” Trump said at the sparsely-attended event in Tulsa. “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.'”
As the Beast report notes, "But two officials working on the coronavirus response within the Trump administration, as well as state officials and experts in emergency response, told The Daily Beast that they did not take the president’s remarks lightly. Whether facetious or not, they argued, the casual indifference Trump displayed towards testing at his Tulsa rally only reaffirmed that his administration was not prepared when the pandemic response hit—and may still not be."
The one official who admitted their worst fears were confirmed by the president's words, added, "... his speech last night really made it seem like maybe this is the reason why they were slow to get us the resources we needed to do the testing.”
Writing that the president's latest claim -- which the administration tried to walk back as the president joking -- has "ignited new fears" among health officials, the Beats's Erin Banco added, "For more than a month, state and local officials called on the federal government to help with testing resources so they could better understand the scale of the virus outbreak in their communities. The testing plan put in place by Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner had fallen short of expectations and governors called out the administration for failing to quickly create a system whereby states could procure test kits and administer them to residents with symptoms. Some municipalities were left waiting so long for help that local officials were forced to settle for contracts with local labs with limited testing capacity. While testing numbers have ramped up in recent weeks and months, some officials say it’s too late."
According to Juliette Kayyem, a former assistant secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Trump's comment was not a joke and fell completely in line with weeks of comments from the president.
“The quote last night was the natural progression of what he’s been saying publicly for a while: If you don’t test then there’s not a problem,” Kayyem explained. “You don’t have to search very hard to know Trump has been a testing skeptic and last night he just said the quiet part out loud.”
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