Jun 23, 2020 - Health

Fauci says Trump has never told coronavirus task force to slow down testing

Anthony Fauci and three other members of the White House coronavirus task force testified to Congress Tuesday that President Trump has never told them to slow down coronavirus testing, and that the U.S. "will in fact be doing more testing" as infections continue to surge in a number of states.

Why it matters: White House officials have insisted that President Trump's claim at a rally on Saturday that he asked to slow down testing because it results in a higher confirmed case count was "tongue-in-cheek." Trump said on Tuesday, however, that the comments were not a joke, telling reporters: "I don't kid."

  • Trump described coronavirus testing as "a double-edged" sword, claiming it accounts for the country's 2.3 million reported cases — the largest case load the world.
  • Last week, Trump called testing "overrated" and said it "makes us look bad."

What they're saying:

"I and my colleagues, to my knowledge, I know that none of us have ever been told to slow down on testing. That is just a fact. In fact, we will be doing more testing as you have heard from the admiral. We will specifically identify people to isolate and contact trace, but more surveillance if you want to get your arms around and understand exactly what is going on in community spread. We are going to be doing more testing, not less."
— NIAID director Anthony Fauci
"As Dr. Fauci said, all of us continue to be committed to increasing timely access to testing. We have made marked improvement. We still have a ways to go. One of the key things as Tony mentioned is expanding surveillance because of the non-symptomatic nature of the infection. We are looking at ways it could substantially impact testing. We are doing 500,000 or 600,000 tests a day. We are continuing to try and enhance testing."
— CDC director Robert Redfield

Between the lines: Fauci told the Wall Street Journal this week that higher percentages of positive tests results in many states "cannot be explained by increased testing," despite what Trump has claimed.

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