Trump: 'With smaller testing we would show fewer cases'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeSantis on Florida schools reopening: 'If you can do Walmart,' then 'we absolutely can do schools' NYT editorial board calls for the reopening of schools with help from federal government's 'checkbook' Mueller pens WaPo op-ed: Roger Stone 'remains a convicted felon, and rightly so' MORE asserted Tuesday that the United States would record fewer cases of the novel coronavirus with less testing after stirring controversy by saying over the weekend he asked aides to slow down testing.

“Cases are going up in the U.S. because we are testing far more than any other country, and ever expanding. With smaller testing we would show fewer cases!” Trump tweeted Tuesday morning.

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Trump has been scrutinized for saying at a campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla., on Saturday that testing was a “double-edged sword” and that he told his staff to “slow the testing down, please.” The White House has said the comment was meant as a joke.

“It was a comment that he made in jest,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters Monday. “It’s a comment that he made in passing, specifically with regard to the media coverage and pointing out the fact that the media never acknowledges that we have more cases because when you test more people, you find more cases.”

Trump denied telling his administration to scale back testing in an interview on Monday with CBN News but said he believed widespread testing put the U.S. at a “disadvantage.” Trump said his remark at the rally was “semi-tongue-in-cheek.”

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"Instead of 25 million tests, let's say we did 10 million tests. We'd look like we were doing much better because we'd have far fewer cases. You understand that," Trump said. "I wouldn't do that, but I will say this: We do so much more than other countries it makes us, in a way, look bad but actually we're doing the right thing."

The U.S. currently leads the globe in coronavirus cases with more than 2.3 million positive tests. Over 120,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. 

Trump’s remarks on testing come as several states are experiencing spikes in cases after relaxing restrictions meant to curb the spread of the virus so businesses can reopen. Cases began to rise nationally over the weekend after plateauing, with states like Arizona, Texas and Florida experiencing severe upticks in cases.

The White House has sought to minimize concerns about the new spikes, attributing them in part to an expansion of testing, though health experts say that the rises in cases cannot be accounted for by increased testing alone.