President Trump on Tuesday said that the U.S. would surpass 5 million coronavirus tests per day. But on Wednesday, the president claimed he never said that, blaming a “media trap.”
Asked by a reporter yesterday if and when the country could reach the benchmark of 5 million coronavirus tests per day recommended by some public-health experts, Trump responded: “Well, it will increase it, and it’ll increase it by much more than that in the very near future.”
The reporter followed up, “Sorry. Did I hear you saying you’re confident you can surpass 5 million tests per day? Is that —”
President Trump interjected: “Oh, well, we’re going to be there very soon. If you look at the numbers, it could be that we’re getting very close. I mean, I don’t have the exact numbers. We would’ve had them if you asked me the same question a little while ago because people with the statistics were there. We’re going to be there very soon. We’re really — we’re really doing — I mean, I watched your report on NBC today and it was an incorrect report, because we’re really doing a great job on testing…”
Current testing numbers are running at about 300,000 a day. Hitting the 5 million–a-day mark would require approximately a 25-fold increase in daily testing capacity, NY Magazine notes.
While speaking to the press in the Oval Office on Wednesday, Trump was asked about remarks he had made a day earlier suggesting that the US would hit 5 million daily tests “very soon.”
Trump called the question a “media trap.”
“Do I think we will [have 5 million tests per day]?,” the president said. “I think we will but I never said it.”
When a reporter pointed out that he had indeed made the remark, Trump objected again.
“I didn’t say it! I didn’t say it!” the president insisted before launching into a rant about how well his administration handled the pandemic.
Pres. Trump struck an optimistic tone yesterday, agreeing the U.S. would reach 5 million tests per day “very soon”—a stance he backed away from today, saying, “Somebody started throwing around 5 million. I didn't say 5 million. Somebody said 5 million.” https://t.co/OtLP1jfq0z pic.twitter.com/OaM4dQywaG
— ABC News (@ABC) April 29, 2020
The official leading the Trump administration’s coronavirus testing efforts says there is “absolutely no way” the U.S. could conduct 5 million tests per day, despite President Trump’s assertion that the country would get to that point “very soon.”
“There is absolutely no way on Earth, on this planet or any other planet, that we can do 20 million tests a day, or even five million tests a day,” said Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services, Adm. Brett Giroir.
Giroir called the report’s recommendations “an Ivory Tower, unreasonable benchmark.”
Almost eight weeks ago, President Trump falsely claimed that “anyone who wants a test can get a test.”