At his rally on Saturday night in Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S. President Donald Trump told the assembled crowd that he intentionally asked coronavirus testing to be slowed down so that there would be fewer documented cases of the disease in the United States.
While speaking to the audience, Trump said that testing was a double-edged sword, as video from NBC News showed.
“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!'” he said to applause.
Trump’s speech at the 19,000-seat Bank of Oklahoma center lasted about 2 hours, and the president tackled topics including his slow descent down a ramp at West Point and the ongoing protests over the killing of George Floyd. When it came to discussing the coronavirus, he said that when there is wider testing, there are more known cases of the disease. So he decided to slow testing down, he claimed.
While it wasn’t clear if the president was joking or not, he has expressed skepticism about testing in the past. As The Washington Post reported on May 15, Trump called testing “overrated.”
“When you test, you have a case,” Trump said. “When you test, you find something is wrong with people. If we didn’t do any testing, we would have very few cases.”
Testing has been a key in tracing and tackling the coronavirus and many have criticized the Trump administration for failing to roll out countrywide testing early on during the pandemic. Since then, Trump has suggested that widespread testing may not be necessary and that the increased number of confirmed cases is detrimental to him.
In March and April, he said that not all states needed testing. In mid-April, he added that states that didn’t have a large outbreak didn’t need it.
“But they’re very, very capable states, and they’re big distances. A lot of land. A lot of opening. You don’t need testing there, you know, where you have a state with a small number of cases.”
Later in the month, Trump said that the reason that the United States had the highest number of cases of COVID-19 was that the country was doing the most testing.
During the rally, Trump referred to the coronavirus as “kung flu,” a term that has reportedly been used before by people in the Trump administration, as The Inquisitr previously reported. The term has been met with backlash from those who feel it carries racist connotations.