Trump Says He Was Serious About Curbing Coronavirus Testing: 'I Don't Kid' (UPDATE)

During his Tulsa campaign rally, Donald Trump said he ordered his administration to slow down COVID-19 testing. Now he's saying he wasn't joking.

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UPDATED 6/24, 4:45 p.m. ET: Federal funding for 13 coronavirus testing sites will be cut off at the end of June, a.k.a. next week. Seven sites are in Texas, a flashpoint for spiking cases; the others are in New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Colorado.

CNBC writes that it’s “part of a previously announced plan to extend financial support for COVID-19 testing across the nation by other means.”

The Trump admin. plans to end federal funding and support for coronavirus testing sites at the end of this month, @NBCNews has learned.

— CNBC Now (@CNBCnow) June 24, 2020

“We are not withdrawing federal support” said Trump coronavirus team member Adm. Brett Giroir. “We are providing federal support in a different way. … We are going to increase testing, both in the number and the quality, and in the targeting on social media.”

The White House tried to transition responsibility for the testing sites to state governments in April but extended it after pushback from lawmakers.

An HHS spokesperson tells me the government is instead "broadening its community testing support to a more sustainable model."

— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) June 24, 2020

See original story below.

It appears that Donald Trump really asked his administration to slow down coronavirus testing, contradicting senior White House officials who have argued that Trump’s comments were made facetiously.

During Saturday’s infamous campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Trump said, “When you do testing to that extent you're going to find more people, you're going to find cases. So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’ They test and they test. We got tests for people who don't know what's going on.”

In the following days, several members of the Trump administration tried to defend Trump’s remarks. After the rally, a White House official told CBS his comments were “in jest,” and on Monday, Mike Pence told U.S. governors that the President was making a “passing observation.”

Meanwhile, on Sunday, White House trade advisor Peter Navarro said that Trump’s comments were “tongue-in-cheek,” and acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told Face the Nation that he wasn’t aware of the President issuing a directive to curtail testing.

However, Trump told a different story on Tuesday, when asked if he was joking about his remarks. He replied, “I don’t kid.”

Trump says he wasn't kidding about slowing down coronavirus testing. "Testing is a double edge sword. One way, it shows you have cases and in another way you find out where the cases are and you do a good job."

— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 23, 2020

He then applauded the U.S. for administering millions of tests, but said that expanded test availability is a “double-edged sword.” He added, “One way, it shows you have cases, and in another way you find out where the cases are and you do a good job.” 

Later on Tuesday, he took to Twitter, writing, “We did a great job on CoronaVirus, including the very early ban on China, Ventilator production, and Testing, which is by far the most, and best, in the World. We saved millions of U.S. lives.! Yet the Fake News refuses to acknowledge this in a positive way.”

....Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is with us in all ways, a very high 72% Approval Rating. So, if he is in charge along with V.P. etc., and with us doing all of these really good things, why doesn’t the Lamestream Media treat us as they should? Answer: Because they are Fake News!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 23, 2020

Politico reports that the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is over 2.3 million, with Arizona, Florida, and Texas hitting record highs.

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