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Ex-RNC chair rebuts Trump claim that anyone who wants coronavirus test can get one

Ex-RNC chair rebuts Trump claim that anyone who wants coronavirus test can get one
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Former Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele on Wednesday pushed back against President TrumpDonald TrumpFacebook temporarily bans ads for weapons accessories following Capitol riots Sasse, in fiery op-ed, says QAnon is destroying GOP Section 230 worked after the insurrection, but not before: How to regulate social media MORE’s claims that coronavirus testing is available to any American who wants one. 

“The narrative, again put into a political context, is what we hear out of the White House is, oh, you know, anybody who wants a test can get a test. No, that's not true,” Steele said in an interview with The Hill’s Steve Clemons. 

“You can only get a test under these guidelines: if you're sick or suffering from some form of the virus, you have evidence of that. But if you wanted to leave your home and go to a medical space to get tested because you have concerns, that's not the reality,” he added. 

The White House earlier this week trumpeted the message that tests are widely available in the U.S. During a Trump Monday press briefing in the Rose Garden, two giant banners hung behind a podium declaring “America leads the world in testing.”

During the briefing, Trump pushed back on a question about testing availability. 

"That’s the problem with a question like that. We go through a whole announcement saying 'We’re number one in the world by far,' by a factor of two, and even three and four depending on where you’re looking, and I get a question, 'When will everybody be able to get tested?'" Trump said. "If somebody wants to be tested right now, they’ll be able to be tested."

Steele noted that economics have cited the need to have widespread testing in order to reopen the economy since asymptomatic people can spread the virus. 

“The problem is the president has his own mind of what this is and what it isn’t, of how it is functioning, and how it is not functioning that goes beyond the science,” Steele said. 

“Remember, this is the guy who somehow either read or was told something about disinfectants, and the next thing we know, the president is out there saying, 'yeah, we could probably inject people with disinfectant to deal with this.' So that's the mindset you're working with,” he added. 

He said Trump is “not necessarily going to be inclined” to follow “reasonable approaches” as compared to “the outrageous” ones. 

“And that's a competing interest inside this White House right now, and it shouldn't be,” Steele said. 

In response to Steele's comments, White House spokesman Judd Deere said the U.S. is a "leader in testing capacity."

"Under the leadership of President Trump, the United States has done more than double the number of tests of any country in the world. We are the global leader in testing capacity and continue to work with governors to ensure they have enough capacity for a safe, responsible reopen," Deere said in an email. 

The coronavirus has infected more than 1.3 million people in the U.S. and killed at least 83,249, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

—Updated at 5 p.m.