Trump says he 'jokingly' said less testing would mean less coronavirus cases

President TrumpDonald John TrumpProtesters tear down statue of Christopher Columbus in Baltimore 'Independence Day' star Bill Pullman urges Americans to wear a 'freedom mask' in July 4 PSA Protesters burn American flag outside White House after Trump's July Fourth address MORE on Thursday night said that he was merely joking when he said over the weekend that less testing would mean fewer confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

“Sometimes I jokingly say, or sarcastically say, if we didn’t do tests we would look great,” Trump told Sean HannitySean Patrick HannityThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Stagwell President Mark Penn says Trump is losing on fighting the virus; Fauci says U.S. 'going in the wrong direction' in fight against virus Trump dings CNN, 'Morning Joe' ratings as Tucker Carlson sets record The Hill's Morning Report - Republicans shift, urge people to wear masks MORE during a televised Fox News town hall event. “But you know what? It’s not the right thing to do.”

At the president's campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla., on Saturday, Trump said that he'd ordered the country's testing for new cases of COVID-19 to be slowed down.

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White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that the comment was "made in jest," but when asked about his comments on Tuesday, Trump said, “I don’t kid. Let me make it clear.”

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciTrump hits 'radical left,' news media, China in Independence Day address White House looks to make 'we need to live with it' the new tone on coronavirus: report Rand Paul's exchange with Fauci was exactly what America needed MORE, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and an integral member of the White House's coronavirus task force, told a House panel this week that testing was actually being ramped up, not decreased.

Trump has persistently pushed the notion that the current spike in coronavirus cases that the U.S. is facing is due to testing. 

“If we didn’t do testing, we would have no cases,” Trump said during the town hall.

The comments come as the nation saw a daily record for new cases on Thursday with more than 40,000.

The U.S. has more than 2.4 million confirmed cases of the virus, more than any country in the world, and more than 120,000 deaths.

Also during the town hall, Trump said that he expects a vaccine to be ready by the end of the year, though many health experts have said that a vaccine might not be widely available until next summer.