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Biden campaign rips ‘outrageous’ Trump comments on coronavirus testing

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s presidential campaign denounced President Trump after he quipped at a campaign rally Saturday night that he told White House officials to slow down testing for the novel coronavirus. 

Trump’s comments came as he held his first rally in more than three months at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla. The president went ahead with the event even as coronavirus cases spiked in certain areas of the U.S., including Oklahoma, and health officials expressed fears about crowding hordes of people into an indoor arena.

But Trump dismissed those concerns during a 90-minute speech, calling his administration’s response to the pandemic “phenomenal.” He also said at one point that testing was a “double-edged sword” because an increase in testing could lead to a rise in positive results. 

“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,'” Trump said. 

Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, said in a statement that Trump’s remarks were “outrageous” and that they would be remembered “long after tonight’s debacle of a rally.”

“Trump just admitted that he’s putting politics ahead of the safety and economic well-being of the American people — even as we just recorded the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in almost two months and 20 million workers remain out of work,” she said. 

“This virus has killed nearly 120,000 Americans and cost tens of millions their jobs, in large part because this president could not and would not mobilize testing as quickly as we needed it. To hear him say tonight that he has ordered testing slowed — a transparent attempt to make the numbers look better — is appalling,” she added. 

Trump’s remarks appeared to be made in jest. But he has previously expressed skepticism about the important of widespread testing, saying in May that it appeared to be “overrated.” 

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, said last week that a recent jump in confirmed cases was not due to higher rates of testing. He also noted that the U.S. was still in the “first wave” of the outbreak and that people’s behavior could be a cause of the recent surge. 

He also said that it’s “very risky” to congregate in places such as bars when “the location they are [in] indicates they shouldn’t be doing that.”

As of Sunday morning, the U.S. had reported 2.2 million confirmed coronavirus cases and about 120,000 deaths caused by it, according to a Johns Hopkins University database. The country reported about 30,000 new cases on Friday, the highest daily increase since May 1. 

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), a member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, has vowed to pursue “answers” about Trump’s comments on coronavirus testing. 

“The American people deserve to know if their president sabotaged efforts to detect and contain COVID-19 because he didn’t like the results,” he said in a tweet late Saturday.

Tags Anthony Fauci Coronavirus Coronavirus testing COVID-19 Donald Trump Joe Biden Oklahoma Raja Krishnamoorthi Tlsa Trump rally

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