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.

Go deeper: Fauci says U.S. still in first wave of coronavirus pandemic

Go deeper

Jul 7, 2020 - Health

Birx: Some Southern states "stepped on the gas" when reopening

Deborah Birx participates at the White House on July 7. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Many of the Southern states that are experiencing a significant surge in coronavirus infections "stepped on the gas" while lifting lockdown restrictions, unlike the regions in the North that were hit hard in March and April, White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx told Wharton Business Daily on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The White House published non-binding guidelines in April that recommended states report 14 days of declining coronavirus cases before reopening. Most states did not meet that criteria, according to the New York Times.

Robert Mueller speaks out on Roger Stone commutation

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Capitol Hill on Wednesday July 24, 2019. Photo: The Washington Post / Contributor

Former special counsel Robert Mueller responded to claims from President Trump and his allies that Roger Stone was a "victim" in the Justice Department's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, writing in a Washington Post op-ed published Saturday: "He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so."

Why it matters: The rare public comments by Mueller come on the heels of President Trump's move to commute the sentence of his longtime associate, who was sentenced in February to 40 months in prison for crimes stemming from the Russia investigation. The controversial decision brought an abrupt end to the possibility of Stone spending time behind bars.

Trump dons face mask during Walter Reed visit

Trump wearing a face mask in Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on July 11. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump wore a face mask during his Saturday visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, according to AP.

Why it matters: This is the first known occasion the president has appeared publicly with a facial covering as recommended by health officials since the coronavirus pandemic began, AP writes.