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Dr. Anthony Fauci dismissed claims that President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force was ever told to “slow down on testing.”
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases confirmed in testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday that the administration will, in fact, be doing more testing, in an apparent contradiction of Trump’s claim that he had asked to “slow the testing down.”
“To my knowledge, none of us have ever been told to slow down on testing. That just is a fact,” Fauci said. “So, it’s the opposite. We’re going to be doing more testing, not less.”
At his campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, over the weekend, which Fauci adamantly said he would not attend, Trump had commented on testing to the crowd, calling it “a double-edged sword.”
“Here’s the bad part: When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases,” Trump said. “So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.'”
At least week’s Tulsa rally Trump had jokingly told supporters that he wanted testing slowed because the numbers of cases had been rising… arguably in part, because of increased tests. Naturally, the media ran like wildfire with the president’s quip.
‘Come on, Jake’: Peter Navarro grows tired of Tapper who let go of Trump’s Covid testing quip https://t.co/3GKebaWcl9
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) June 21, 2020
But Fauci apparently broke with Trump at the hearing Tuesday, where he was joined by Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health for Health and Human Services; Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention as well as Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
“Testing has been a problem since the beginning, and while it’s improved, we are still falling far short of the 900,000 daily tests public health experts believe we need,” House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone said Tuesday in his opening statement.
“We are also hampered by the administration’s refusal to develop and implement a national testing and contact tracing strategy,” the New Jersey Democrat claimed.
White House officials defended the Trump’s rally comments about testing, saying he was just joking. But the president stood by his words when asked by reporters and also tweeted his view on testing again.
Cases are going up in the U.S. because we are testing far more than any other country, and ever expanding. With smaller testing we would show fewer cases!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 23, 2020
Trump added that Fauci “is with us in all ways” and called out the “Lamestream Media” for biased reporting.
….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
During Tuesday’s testimony, Fauci also expressed hope for a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year or early 2021, noting that it will be a matter of “when and not if” the vaccine becomes available.
— The Hill (@thehill) June 23, 2020
“I still think there is a reasonably good chance that by the very beginning of 2021, that if we’re going to have a vaccine, that we will have it by then,” The nation’s top infectious diseases expert added, admitting he was “cautiously optimistic” about the progress made so far.
But Fauci cautioned lawmakers that the U.S. is still in the “first wave” of the pandemic which has killed about 120,000 in the nation.
“I have said multiple times publicly that we are still in the middle of the first wave. Before you start talking about a second wave, what we’d like to do is get this outbreak under control,” he said. “The next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surges we are seeing in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and other states.”
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