‘Covid-19 testing double-edged sword, asked my people to slow it down’ : US President Donald Trump
Trump is in a hurry to reopen the country and get its economy running back again, with an eye on his re-election prospects in November.Updated: Jun 21, 2020 21:35 IST
US President Donald Trump on Saturday told supporters at an election rally in Oklahoma’s Tulsa that he had ordered officials to slow down testing for coronavirus disease (Covid-19) as it led to more cases.
“You know testing is a double-edged sword,” Trump said. “When you do testing to that extent you’re going to find more cases. So I said to my people slow the testing down.”
The United States has the most Covid-19 infections in the world - more than 2.25 million - and fatalities at close to 1,12,000. His own experts have recommended increased testing to get ahead of the epidemic and it was a stunning admission from the president that he had asked for it to be slowed down.
The Biden campaign has slammed the president’s admission as an “an outrageous moment” saying Trump “is putting politics ahead of the safety and economic well-being of the American people”.
Trump is in a hurry to reopen the country and get its economy running back again, with an eye on his re-election prospects in November. Even the rally he addressed on Saturday in Tulsa, which was meant to meant to mark his return to the campaign trail after three months, was staged amidst widespread concerns about so many people congregating in a tight place with no scope of social distancing.
Just hours before the president was scheduled to take the stage, his campaign announced that six members of an advance team on ground in Tulsa had tested positive for Covid-19. But that had little or no salutary effect on the organisers or supporters. Few people wore masks, including the president and all the other speakers who preceded him. In the stands, there was no observance of social distancing norms recommended by the president’s own experts and federal agencies fighting the epidemic.
The president was excited about returning to the campaign trail and the promise of a massive turnout had added to the build-up. Based on an estimated one million RSVPs, the campaign had planned an indoor rally and one outdoors for the spillover crowd. No one showed up for the outdoor event, and stands in the indoor venue had many empty seats.
Evidently surprised and embarrassed, the campaign sought to blame protesters and media for the low turnout. “Radical protesters, coupled with a relentless onslaught from the media, attempted to frighten off the president’s supporters. We are proud of the thousands who stuck it out,” Tim Murtaugh, a campaign spokesman, said.
Sporadic incidents of clashes were witnessed between Trump supporters and protestors, but not as widespread or of a scale as portrayed by the Trump campaign. Police used pepper balls in one instance, Tulsaworld, a local news publication, reported. One protester was also arrested.
In a speech lasting almost two hours, the president slammed his presumptive Democratic rival Joe Biden, the former vice-president, who is seeking to tie him to the anti-racism protests that ripped through the country over the past weeks, marked by violence, looting and clashes with law enforcements forces.
The president also reeled off a list of his administration’s achievements that read like a compilation of points covered many times in his tweets.
The president spent quite a bit of time counter attacking questions raised about his health after he was seen using both hands to lift a glass a water to his lips and for shuffling off a ramp from the stage. He went on to drink from a glass using just one hand to prove his point, to cheers from his supporters.