Trump: Wealthy shouldn’t get special access to coronavirus tests, but ‘that’s been the story of life’
President Trump on Wednesday said he did not agree that professional athletes and wealthy individuals should get preferential access to coronavirus testing, but blamed an “obsolete system” for the slow rollout of widespread testing.
Multiple NBA teams have been tested for the virus after a few players were diagnosed with the virus, raising questions about how they were able to access the tests so quickly.
“You’ll have to ask them that question,” Trump told reporters when asked about asymptomatic athletes getting tested.
Asked if wealthier individuals should be getting faster access to tests, Trump said he did not think so.
“No, I wouldn’t say so, but perhaps that’s been the story of life,” he said. “That does happen on occasion. I’ve noticed where some people have been tested fairly quickly.”
“No, I wouldn’t say so, but perhaps that’s been the story of life. That does happen on occasion,” President Trump says when if professional athletes without symptoms should be going to the front of the line in getting tested for coronavirus. https://t.co/piDsmnkG0y pic.twitter.com/zwStW3Jyd6
— ABC News (@ABC) March 18, 2020
The Utah Jazz had dozens of players and staff tested after center Rudy Gobert tested positive earlier this month, prompting the NBA to suspend its season. A Detroit Pistons player has since tested positive, and the Brooklyn Nets said Tuesday that the team had been tested through a private company, and four players were confirmed to have the coronavirus.
Celebrities including Tom Hanks and Idris Elba have also tested positive, though in Hanks’s case he was tested in Australia.
The Trump administration has faced intense criticism over the lack of widely available coronavirus tests. Officials have insisted testing is ramping up this week and will be more accessible across the country in the days and weeks to come.
Deborah Birx, who is coordinating the White House coronavirus response, said the government initially sought to prioritize testing access based on areas of the country with the greatest number of cases. She said new private sector partnerships should allow test kits to be distributed more broadly.
For his part, Trump implicitly blamed the Obama administration for testing shortages, saying he inherited “a very obsolete system.”
“This was a system that was out of date, obsolete, or it was a system that was never meant to take care of the kind of quantity,” he said.
There are confirmed cases of the coronavirus in all 50 states, and more than 100 Americans have died from the virus.