At an industry roundtable on Wednesday, President Donald Trump once again doubled down on the claim that the state of coronavirus testing in the United States is all well and good—and that complaining about it is just a favorite media pastime.
“You don’t hear about ventilators, you don’t hear about masks, and you shouldn’t be hearing about testing—but that’s the last thing they can complain about, I guess,” Trump said. “If we do 2 million tests, they say, ‘Why don’t you do 3?’ If we do 3, they say, ‘How come you didn’t do 4?’ That’s like a dream for the media.”
"You shouldn't be hearing about testing, but that's the last thing [the media] can complain about I guess … I don't know that all that [testing] is even necessary" — Trump downplays importance of testing, which he suggests is a luxury (experts say more testing is necessary) pic.twitter.com/2eMSedp4aR
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 29, 2020
Trump blamed his administration’s response on past presidents: “We had no ventilators, or very few, from previous administrations. We became the king of ventilators.” He added, “We had old fashioned tests that didn’t work, that were really obsolete,” but, “the testing has been incredible now, to a level that nobody’s seen.” (There were no COVID-19 tests before because it’s a new virus.)
Trump praised the states that have made plans to reopen their economies, making it sound like ongoing testing is just a personal pet project for governors rather than a critical public health need: “You have some governors that love the tests. You have others that like doing it a different way, an old fashioned way, with some testing. But we’re going maximum testing.”
As of yesterday, some 5.8 million Americans had been tested for coronavirus, according to the COVID Tracking Project—less than 2 percent of the US population. More than 60,000 Americans have died of the virus.