Updated Jun 21, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump says he asked officials to slow coronavirus testing down

President Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally at the BOK Center, June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
President Trump arrives at a campaign rally at the BOK Center, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump told the crowd at a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday that he asked officials to "slow the testing down" for the novel coronavirus.

Details: This is the first time Trump has made such remarks, and the campaign for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden issued a statement calling Trump's comments "outrageous" and "appalling." White House officials told reporters that Trump was joking, Axios' Hans Nichols notes.

"COVID. To be specific, COVID-19. That name gets further and further away from China, as opposed to calling it the Chinese virus. We — I — did a phenomenal job with it."
— Remarks by Trump at his Tulsa rally

What he's saying: At the rally, Trump reiterated his claims that ramped up testing was to blame for the U.S. having the world's highest number of COVID-19 cases, and he again blamed China for the pandemic — which he continued to refer to using terms the World Health Organization has said could stigmatize individuals with Chinese ancestry.

  • He also referred to COVID-19 as "kung flu," a term White House counselor Kellyanne Conway has previously called "highly offensive."
  • Trump said the virus was a "double-edged sword" because it counts cases like a "young man, 10 years old" who "got the sniffles, he's gonna recover in about 15 minutes."

Of note: NIAID director Anthony Fauci told the Wall Street Journal this week that increased testing does lead to more cases reported, but he said higher percentages of positive tests results in many states "cannot be explained by increased testing."

The big picture: More than 119,600 Americans have died of COVID-19, Johns Hopkins data shows. Over 2.2. million people have tested positive for the virus from more than 26.5 million tests in the United States.

Go deeper: In photos: Trump holds first campaign rally since start of coronavirus pandemic

Editor's note: This article has been updated with the Biden campaign's comments.

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