Trump Won't Say If He Really Asked For Coronavirus Testing To Slow Down

White House officials have said Trump was joking when he said on Saturday that he’d ordered staff to slow coronavirus testing to have a lower number of cases.

President Donald Trump would not directly respond when pressed about his comment at his Saturday rally that he had ordered staff to “slow the testing down” for coronavirus.

During an interview on Monday, Joe St. George, a Scripps reporter, asked Trump about his remarks at the rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, about slowing testing. Specifically, the president said: “When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find ... more cases. So I said to my people, ’Slow the testing down, please.’”

Trump did not directly respond to St. George’s question, instead going on about how many tests the U.S. has done.

“We do more testing than any country in the world by far,” Trump said. “Every time you do a test — as you do more tests, it shows more and more cases. So we’re so far advanced both in terms of the quality and the amount. And we’re doing all these tests and it shows cases — if other countries aren’t doing, or if we did slow it down, we wouldn’t show nearly as many cases.”

When the reporter asked again, “But did you ask to slow it down?” Trump repeated his previous claims suggesting that less testing for COVID-19 would lead to fewer actual cases.

“If it did slow down, frankly I think we’re way ahead of ourselves, if you want to know the truth. We’ve done too good a job,” Trump responded, dodging the question again. “Because every time we go up, with 25 million tests, you’re gonna find more people — so then they say, ‘Oh, you have more cases in the United States.’ The reason we have more cases is because we do more testing than any other country by far.”

After Trump’s remarks on Saturday, White House officials told reporters that the president had been joking. White House trade advisor Peter Navarro on Sunday similarly claimed the president was being “tongue-in-cheek.”

The White House did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

Trump has repeatedly made claims suggesting that less testing would mean fewer COVID-19 cases, when in fact less testing would have no impact on the actual spread of the virus, and would simply mean that fewer cases would be publicly reported.

After Trump’s Saturday remarks, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) slammed the president in a statement, saying: “The President’s efforts to slow down desperately needed testing to hide the true extent of the virus mean more Americans will lose their lives … The American people are owed answers about why President Trump wants less testing when experts say much more is needed.”

The U.S. continues to lead the world in coronavirus cases and deaths, with over 2.2 million confirmed cases and over 120,000 dead so far.

While the number of new coronavirus cases has been dropping in some countries — like Spain and France, which implemented strict lockdowns in early spring — the World Health Organization reported the largest single day increase in coronavirus cases worldwide on Sunday, led by Brazil and followed by the U.S.

Daily coronavirus case tallies have been gradually increasing in some states, including California, Florida, Arizona and Texas.

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