President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 panel plans to subpoena Trump lawyer who advised on how to overturn election Texans chairman apologizes for 'China virus' remark Biden invokes Trump in bid to boost McAuliffe ahead of Election Day 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!'"
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.
President Trump on coronavirus testing: “I said to my people, slow the testing down, please." pic.twitter.com/d2nrpxYyzw— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 21, 2020
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.
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 KrishnamoorthiEx-Washington Football Team employees ask owners to release workplace misconduct report TikTok, Snapchat executives to make Capitol Hill debuts House Oversight Democrats ask NFL for information from investigation into Washington Football Team 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 WarnerOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by American Clean Power — Dems see path to deal on climate provisions Sanders faces difficult choice on slimmed-down budget bill Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by American Clean Power — Methane fee faces negotiations 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.