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Trump quips that he told aides to 'slow the testing down' for coronavirus

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarks Trump threatens to veto defense bill over tech liability shield Tiger King's attorney believes they're close to getting pardon from Trump MORE on Saturday quipped that he encouraged administration officials to slow down testing capacity for the coronavirus because the increased identification of cases made the country look bad.

"Testing is a double-edged sword," Trump said during a campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla. "We’ve tested now 25 million people. It’s probably 20 million people more than anybody else. Germany’s done a lot. South Korea’s done a lot."

"Here’s the bad part," he continued. "When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people. You’re going to find more cases. So I said to my people, 'Slow the testing down, please!'"

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The president's remark appeared to be in jest and came during a lengthy riff on the coronavirus. But he has previously made similar remarks indicating he believes widespread testing, which is recommended by public health experts, can be problematic because it leads to higher case counts.

Trump later mused about the numerous names used to refer to COVID-19 by singling out a racist term for the virus, and he made a lighthearted comment about borrowing kids' immune systems based on evidence the virus is less lethal for young people.

"Let’s open the schools, please," Trump said.

There are more than 2.2 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S., according to data from Johns Hopkins, and roughly 120,000 people in the country have died from the disease.

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The president's comments appearing to make light of the importance of testing drew condemnation from Democratic lawmakers.

"Congress will be pursuing answers on this because the American people deserve to know if their president sabotaged efforts to detect and contain COVID-19 because he didn’t like the results. The result he needs to focus on is the lives we can save," Rep. Raja KrishnamoorthiSubramanian (Raja) Raja KrishnamoorthiHHS scraps celebrity COVID-19 ad campaign aimed at 'defeating despair' Documents show 'political' nature of Trump COVID ad campaign, lawmakers say Trust and transparency are necessary to make COVID-19 vaccine successful MORE (D-Ill.), a member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, tweeted in response to Trump's comments.

"119,000 people are dead, and the President doesn’t care how many more people get sick, as long he doesn’t have to take responsibility for it," Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerBipartisan, bicameral group unveils 8 billion coronavirus proposal The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - GOP angst in Georgia; confirmation fight looms Congress ends its year under shadow of COVID-19 MORE (D-Va.) tweeted.

Trump's Saturday rally took place even as coronavirus cases were increasing in Oklahoma and other states that have lifted restrictions on businesses meant to slow the spread of the disease. The campaign handed out masks and hand sanitizer to attendees, but most people in the crowd did not wear face coverings.

Six members of the Trump campaign advance team, which was in Oklahoma earlier in the week to prepare for the rally, tested positive for the coronavirus on Saturday.