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

Coronavirus cases flat or growing in 48 states

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise, Naema Ahmed, Danielle Alberti/Axios

The number of coronavirus cases increased in the vast majority of states over the last week, and decreased in only two states plus the District of Columbia.

Why it matters: This is a grim reminder that no part of the United States is safe from the virus. If states fail to contain their outbreaks, they could soon face exponential spread and overwhelmed health systems.

Updated 14 hours ago - Health

U.S. daily coronavirus cases top 50,000 for first time

A medical technologist processes test samples for the coronavirus at a lab in Tampa, Florida, on June 25. Photo: Octavio Jones/Getty Images

The number of people to test positive for the novel coronavirus in the U.S. surpassed 50,000 for the first time ever on Wednesday, Johns Hopkins data shows.

Driving the news: The pandemic is accelerating across the U.S., with the Sun Belt being hit particularly hard. Daily coronavirus case records were reported on Wednesday in Texas (8,076), Arizona (4,878), Georgia (2,946), North Carolina (1,843) and Tennessee (1,806).

Coronavirus testing czar: "We are not flattening the curve right now"

Adm. Brett Giroir, the Health and Human Services official overseeing the nation's coronavirus testing efforts, told Congress Thursday that the U.S. is "not flattening the curve right now," and that the nationwide surge in new cases is not simply a result of more testing.

Why it matters: President Trump said at a press conference just hours earlier that the U.S. is getting the coronavirus "under control." He and other top members of his administration have sought to downplay the growing surge in infections as largely a product of increased testing.