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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.

Go deeper

Updated 21 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: No evidence that healthy children, teens need boosters, WHO says — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older.
  5. Variant tracker
Sep 29, 2020 - Health

Axios-Ipsos poll: Americans won't take Trump's word on vaccine

Data: Axios/Ipsos survey; Note: Margin of error for the total sample is ±3.2%; Chart: Axios Visuals

Barely two in 10 Americans would take a first-generation coronavirus vaccine if President Trump told them it was safe — one of several new measures of his sinking credibility in the latest wave of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Details: Given eight scenarios and asked how likely they were to try the vaccine in each case, respondents said they'd be most inclined if their doctor vouched for its safety (62%), followed by insurance covering the full cost (56%) or the FDA saying it's safe (54%).

Sep 29, 2020 - World

Global coronavirus death toll crosses 1 million

Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

The global toll of confirmed deaths from COVID-19 crossed 1 million on Monday, according to data from Johns Hopkins.

By the numbers: More than half of those deaths have come in four countries: the U.S. (204,762), Brazil (141,741), India (95,542) and Mexico (76,430). The true global death toll is likely far higher.