President Donald Trump might have been telling the truth when he exclaimed during his rally on Saturday at Tulsa, Oklahoma he had ordered his advisers to "slow the testing down, please."
Trump was referring to testing for COVID-19, which he's always said only makes him look bad when testing numbers rise. On the other hand, doctors have always affirmed testing is absolutely necessary to tame the spread of COVID-19 by identifying hotspots that must receive urgent medical attention.
"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 roared. He then said so many tests are being conducted "that people don't even know what's going on."
It now appears Trump has actually ordered a slowdown in coronavirus testing, putting thousands of American lives at risk. In a Monday TV interview, Trump refused to give a straightforward answer when asked if he was joking when he said he had ordered a slowdown in testing.
Trump paused after hearing the question and said, "If it did slow down, frankly, I think we're way ahead of ourselves, if you want to know the truth," said Trump. "We've done too good a job."
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) on Monday revealed the Trump administration has refused to release nearly $14 billion in funding Congress passed for coronavirus testing and contact tracing. These funds were included in the coronavirus relief bill approved in April.
In a letter sent Sunday to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Schumer said the Trump administration has still failed to distribute more than $8 billion out of $25 billion appropriated by Congress to expand testing and contact tracing.
In addition, Schumer said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) hasn't awarded a total of $6 billion for testing. Of this amount, $4 billion will go to surveillance and contact tracing at the state and local levels and tribal territories. An additional $2 billion will go to free testing for uninsured people.
Schumer and Murray called on the Trump administration to immediately disburse the remainder of the $25 billion in funds to ramp-up testing and contact tracing capacity. They also want to ensure providers are aware of and able to easily access the $2 billion Congress appropriated to provide testing for the uninsured.
Top Trump administration officials have been twisting themselves into knots in pathetic attempts to either downplay or laugh off Trump's horrific comment. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said Trump's comment was tongue-in-cheek, or a joke. He said Trump's comment was "a light moment" for Trump during the rally.
On the other hand, the campaign of Democratic Party presidential candidate Joe Biden blasted Trump for the comments that put Americans' lives at risk. Deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield scathingly pointed out that in Tulsa, Trump explained why the U.S. lags behind so many other countries in testing. It's because Trump said to his people to "slow the testing down please."