Donald Trump said the slow rollout of coronavirus testing in the United States was the fault of past presidential administrations that handed him a “broken” test — even though the virus itself only started spreading worldwide in late 2019, three years into his term in office.
Trump made the statement during an appearance on the Fox News morning show Fox and Friends this week, repeating a claim he had made in an earlier Rose Garden briefing on the spread of coronavirus.
“We took over a dead, barren system,” Trump said, via PolitiFact. “That didn’t work, because when CDC first looked at their test, the biggest problem they had is, the test didn’t work. That wasn’t from us. That’s been there a long time. Now we have the best tests in the world.”
As the fact-checking website noted, it was not possible for Trump’s administration to have inherited a flawed test for the coronavirus since it was only officially identified as a new disease by China on December 31, 2019. The virus had started spreading around Wuhan, with health experts believing it was traced back to a wet market in the city. The novel coronavirus, which causes the respiratory disease known as COVID-19, spread to the United States weeks later and has now been reported in countries across the globe.
While Trump did not explicitly blame former President Barack Obama in the statements, he has taken aim at his predecessor at times for what he called a lack of preparedness among federal agencies. As NBC News reported, Trump claimed earlier this month that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lacked the proper preparation to test for the virus.
“For decades the @CDCgov looked at, and studied, its testing system, but did nothing about it,” Trump wrote on Twitter, via NBC News. “It would always be inadequate and slow for a large scale pandemic, but a pandemic would never happen, they hoped. President Obama made changes that only complicated things further.”
However, critics have placed blame on Trump for closing down a team specifically put in place to prepare for such an event. As Time noted, the Trump administration disbanded the National Security Council unit focused on pandemic preparedness back in 2018, as part of a larger restructuring of the NSC. The outlet added that per critics, doing so left a void in global health security within the White House and cost precious time at the onset of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.