Four top U.S. health officials told a Congressional panel that they never received any instruction from the Trump administration to slow down diagnostic test for coronavirus.
Addressing a high-profile election campaign rally in Tulsa on Saturday, President Donald Trump said that he had told his staff to slow down diagnostic test for coronavirus, as it had led to the U.S. having the world’s highest number of cases.
“When you do testing… you are going to find more people, you will find more cases. So I said to my people: ‘Slow the testing down,” he told his supporters.
The White House later said the President was joking. But the president stood firm on his earlier stand by telling reporters on Tuesday, “I don’t kid.”
At a high-profile hearing Tuesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee asked the officials to respond to Trump’s claim.
All the four officials, including Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told the committee they had never been instructed to slow down diagnostic tests for the deadly virus that has so far claimed the lives of more than 120000 people in the U.S.
It amounts to one fourth of the global death toll.
“To my knowledge, none of us have ever been told to slow down on testing,” said Fauci. “In fact, we will be doing more testing,” he added.
Dr Fauci, who is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told the House panel that the U.S. was experiencing a “disturbing surge” of infections after states reopened too quickly and without adequate plans for testing and contact tracing.
Adm. Brett P. Giroir, who is Assistant Secretary for Health, said, “We want to do more testing and of higher quality.”
The U.S. health department will be able to conduct 40 to 50 million tests per month by autumn, according to him.
Officials representing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration also testified before the House Committee.
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