In Latest Briefing, Trump Punts on Testing
April 20, 2020
In tonight’s briefing, Trump refused to account for his testing failures, pushing blame onto governors while claiming the well-documented problem doesn’t exist.
Never passing up an opportunity to shirk responsibility, Trump once again blamed states and governors for his testing failure.
CNN’s Daniel Dale: “Trump claims ‘some of the governors didn’t understand’ their available testing capacity. He cites Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who has been vocal in talking about his state’s shortages of critical testing materials, and Democratic Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker.”
PBS NewsHour’s Meredith Lee: “Trump says ‘hundreds and hundreds’ of labs are ready for COVID testing, saying ‘the governor from Maryland’ didn’t understand that. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland announced today he’s acquired 500,000 tests from South Korea because he couldn’t get them in the US.”
CNN’s Jim Acosta: “Trump claims Hogan didn’t need to go out and buy tests from South Korea: ‘He needed to get a little knowledge.’ Hogan told CNN he understands where testing can be conducted in MD but that tests could not be run at some of those sites passed along to him by admin.”
Trump denied that alarms raised about the nation’s testing shortage were bipartisan even though he has been told by governors, mayors, and members of Congress from both parties — not to mention public health experts and business leaders — about the dire need to expand testing.
CNN’s Daniel Dale: “Asked why he thinks talking about testing is a ‘personal attack’ given how there’s a bipartisan focus on this, Trump says, ‘It’s not bipartisan. It’s mostly partisan.’ It’s bipartisan — and, critically, non-partisan, with experts emphasizing the importance of testing.”
ABC News’s Katherine Faulders: “Testing concerns are bipartisan. Trump keeps focusing on Gov. Hogan, but Texas Gov. Greg Abbott raised concerns on Pence’s call with governors today about testing as well.”
Vox’s Aaron Rupar: “After Birx and an HHS official talk about the importance of coronavirus testing, Trump takes the mic and says, ‘by the way, not everybody agrees that we have to do that much testing. We’re going maximum.’ (No expert thinks that.)”
In order to cover up his failure, Trump touted testing capacity that is meaningless because of the lack of testing supplies, which has been exacerbated by his failure to implement a national testing strategy.
CBC News’s Katie Simpson: “Trump says the federal government has already made ‘immense’ testing capabilities available, but says some states need to take advantage of it. Governors have contradicted Trump’s claims about the availability of tests.”
Reuters’s Timothy Aeppel: “So odd that officials continue to talk around the supply chain issue. It doesn’t matter how many machines exist, if they don’t have the swabs, reagent chemicals and other supplies to run them.”
Associated Press: “FACT CHECK: Trump falsely blames governors for virus test … [Republican Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon] said states have been competing with each other to try to get more testing supplies, a process he described as ‘a slog.’”
Los Angeles Times: “U.S. testing rates for the coronavirus lag behind those of many other countries weathering the pandemic, with several governors and health experts saying the White House has not stepped up to order the production of sufficient supplies of tests, nasal swabs and other necessary materials and has also failed to coordinate a national response.”
Trump made clear he views this crisis as one of personal and political significance rather than a public health emergency.
CNN’s Jim Acosta: “After just claiming it’s not about him, Trump says criticism of his performance on Coronavirus is aimed at swinging November election: ‘You know what November 3rd represents.’ (It’s about him)”
CBS’s Nicole Sganga: “‘We’re dealing with politics. We’re dealing with a thing called November 3rd of this year.’ President Trump says Democrats are pushing for maximum national testing capacity ‘because they want to be able to criticize’ ahead of his re-election.”
CNN’s Daniel Dale: “‘I don’t view it as personal at all,’ Trump says after explaining at length why complaints about testing are an attempt to damage him personally.”
Trump lied about his travel restrictions on China and Europe, which were not as early, airtight, or effective as he claims.
CNN’s Vivian Salama: “The NYT reported that at least 430,000 people arrived in the United States on direct flights from China, including nearly 40,000 in the two months after President Trump imposed restrictions on such travel. The bulk of the passengers, of multiple nationalities, arrived in January.”
Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Ballhaus: “Trump says he banned travel from Europe before March. He announced that ban March 11.”
HuffPost’s S.V. Dáte: “Trump, once again, is claiming that his China travel restrictions were such a big deal. 1) US carriers had already halted flights. 2) Some 40 countries did so by then or right about the same time.”
Trump said the pandemic taught him the importance of producing medical supplies in the U.S. to address shortages — but his administration encouraged shipping American-made PPE to China as late as March.
TRUMP: “This pandemic has reaffirmed the importance of keeping vital supply chains at home. We cannot outsource our independence. We cannot be reliant on foreign nations.”
Washington Post: “U.S. manufacturers shipped millions of dollars’ worth of face masks and other protective medical equipment to China in January and February with encouragement from the federal government, a Washington Post review of economic data and internal government documents has found. The move underscores the Trump administration’s failure to recognize and prepare for the growing pandemic threat. … A senior Commerce official … said senior leaders at the department’s International Trade Administration shut the program down on March 4.”
Instead of updating the public on the coronavirus crisis, Trump wasted time touting his unnecessary and ineffective border wall.
The Atlantic’s Peter Nicholas: “At the daily coronavirus task force briefing, Pres. Trump just invited Army Corps of Engineers Gen. Semonite to talk about the construction of the border wall with Mexico. Semonite had been talking about the [Corps’] efforts to combat the virus.”
Washington Post: “Smugglers are sawing through new sections of Trump’s border wall”