Dr. Anthony Fauci told Congress Tuesday that he’s seeing a ‘disturbing surge of infections’ of the coronavirus and said it’s something he’s ‘quite concerned’ about.
‘Right now the next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surgings that we’re seeing in Florida, in Texas, in Arizona, and in other states,’ Fauci told members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Fauci also denied he was ever asked by President Trump to slow down COVID-19 testing.
‘I, as a member of the taskforce, and my colleagues on the taskforce to my knowledge – I know for sure – to my knowledge none of us have ever been told to slow down on testing,’ Fauci testified Tuesday. ‘That is just a fact.’
The president has been in hot water for commenting at his Saturday rally that he’d asked government officials to ‘slow the testing down, please,’ in order for the U.S. to have lower coronavirus case numbers.
Earlier Tuesday, Trump denied that he was making a joke – which has been the White House’s official defense of his remarks.
‘I don’t kid,’ the president said as he departed the White House for Arizona – one of the burgeoning coronavirus hot spots. ‘By having more tests. We find more cases,’ he continued, adding that testing was a ‘double-edged sword.’
Testifying before Congress Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he’s seeing a ‘disturbing surge of infections’ of the coronavirus
President Trump answered, ‘I don’t kid,’ when asked about comments he made Saturday night that suggested he had ordered government officials to slow down COVID-19 testing in the U.S. so the country would have lower case numbers
Since the president made the comments, his staff has had to play clean-up, including press secretary Kayleigh McEnany who said Monday that President Trump was speaking ‘in jest’
At Monday’s press briefing, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the president was speaking ‘in jest’ when he said he ordered coronavirus testing to be slowed down so the country had fewer cases
President Trump originally made the comments during Saturday night’s rally in Tulsa, which marked the first time he officially returned to the cmpaign trail since the coronavirus pandemic cancelled large-scale gatherings
On Capitol Hill, Fauci said the U.S. planned to do more testing, as it was a way to get some of the ‘community spread’ under control.
Fauci said the U.S. could be conducting ‘much more surveillance if you want to get your arms around and understand exactly what’s going on in community spread.’
‘You have to have the manpower, the system, the testing, to identify, isolate and contact trace in an effective way,’ Fauci said. ‘So when you see those increases you can understand where they’re coming from and do something about them.’
Trump’s political rival, presumptive Democratic nominee, continued to hit him Tuesday over the testing comments, calling them ‘stunning and outrageous.’
The White House has played clean-up since Saturday, with Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro saying Sunday on CNN that the president was being ‘tongue-in-cheek.’
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany used similar phrasing at the briefing Monday, saying the president’s comments were made ‘in jest.’
‘Any suggestion that testing has been curtailed is not rooted in fact,’ she said.
She added that 26.7 million coronavirus tests have now been administered.
‘The president was trying to expose what the media oftentimes does is they ignore the fact that the United States has more cases because we have more testing,’ she explained. ‘We are leading the world on testing.’
‘It was a comment that he made in jest. It was a comment that he made in passing,’ she added.
McEnany was then asked if the president should be making jokes about the coronavirus when more than 122,000 Americans have died.
‘He was not joking about coronavirus, I just said he was joking about the media and their failure to understand the fact that when you test more you’ll also find more cases,’ she replied.
Before the briefing Monday, Trump was interviewed by broadcast journalist Joe St. George and he twice dodged the question of whether he told government officials to slow down COVID-19 testing.
When a reporter pointed to the president’s Monday comments – and how he didn’t say anything about making them ‘in jest’ – McEnany replied, ‘The president instead used that opportunity to extoll the fact that we’ve done more than 25 million tests.’
He boasted about those numbers on Tuesday as well.
‘We did 25-plus, 25 million tests. Think of that – 25 million. If you look at other countries they did 1 million, 2 million, 3 million. Big countries. We did 25 million, way more by double, triple, quadruple any other country,’ Trump said.
‘Therefore, with tests, we’re going to have more cases. By having more cases, it sounds bad. But actually what it is, is we’re finding people, many of those people aren’t sick,’ the president continued.
Trump added that because the U.S. is finding all these cases ‘we have a very low mortality rate.’
‘Just about the best in the world,’ he said.
On Monday, the World Health Organization pushed back on Trump’s assertion that cases were rising because of increased testing.
‘We do not believe that this is a testing phenomenon,’ said Mike Ryan, the executive director of WHO’s emergencies program. ‘Clearly when you look at the hospital admissions, [they] are also rising in a number of countries and deaths are also rising.’
‘They’re not due to increased testing per se. So there definitely is a shift in the sense that the virus is now very well established on a global level,’ Ryan said at a press conference in Geneva.