Trump blames Obama for coronavirus testing issues, says ‘changes have been made’
President Trump on Friday deflected blame for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) slow coronavirus testing process, saying former President Obama “made changes that only complicated things further.”
“For decades the @CDCgov looked at, and studied, its testing system, but did nothing about it,” Trump tweeted.
“It would always be inadequate and slow for a large scale pandemic, but a pandemic would never happen, they hoped,” he added. “President Obama made changes that only complicated things further.”
For decades the @CDCgov looked at, and studied, its testing system, but did nothing about it. It would always be inadequate and slow for a large scale pandemic, but a pandemic would never happen, they hoped. President Obama made changes that only complicated things further…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2020
In a follow-up tweet, Trump said the Obama administration’s response to the H1N1 virus “was a full scale disaster, with thousands dying, and nothing meaningful done to fix the testing problem, until now.”
The CDC’s testing process has been a target of criticism as the coronavirus has spread throughout the United States. Instead of using the World Health Organization’s test kit, the CDC decided to make its own test, which slowed its response. Once the tests were finally rolled out, they weren’t fully effective.
“We’re weeks behind because we had this problem,” Scott Becker, chief executive officer of the Association of Public Health Laboratories, told ProPublica at the end of February. “We’re usually up-front and center and ready.”
Trump has repeatedly blamed Obama-era rules for slowing the pace of testing, but the only rule that has been changed under the Trump administration is a Food and Drug Administration rule put into effect that initially required the FDA to approve any test developed by the CDC.
Additionally, because of Emergency Use Authorization issued by the FDA, public health labs have to send their positive tests to CDC labs to get double-checked, which has only further created delays in diagnosing patients.
Tests that have come back positive but have yet to be double-checked by CDC are being described as “presumptive positives.”
According to the CDC’s website, between CDC and public health labs, approximately 13,500 tests have been processed. By comparison, South Korea, which has suffered a sizable coronavirus outbreak of its own, has tested more than 200,000 people with the help of a highly efficient drive-through testing system.
This also isn’t the first time that Trump has targeted Obama for his handling of the H1N1 outbreak. On March 4 in an interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity, Trump said that the Obama White House “didn’t do anything about it.”
The Obama administration issued two national emergency declarations during the H1N1 outbreak in 2009.
In the U.S., there have been over 1,700 cases of COVID-19 and at least 40 deaths. Dozens of states and Washington, D.C., have issued emergency declarations and several states have canceled K-12 schools for the coming weeks.
Updated at 10:23 a.m.