That was the explanation the White House offered when pressed on a comment President Donald Trump made while addressing his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on 20 June.
BBC reported he told the ‘crowd’, a term I use loosely, that he had encouraged officials to slow down testing because it led to the discovery of more cases. He described testing as a "double-edged sword".
"Here is the bad part: When you do testing to that extent, you are going to find more people, you will find more cases," he said. "So I said 'slow the testing down'. They test and they test.”
That’s the sort of excuse an ill-prepared aide comes up with when his boss has opened his mouth and jumped in with both feet. Faced with the choice of admitting the president’s ignorance or claiming he was joking, I’d say the official made the right call.
This anti-testing stance is just one more example of Trump’s unrivalled ability to undertake u-turns without missing a step - he had previously praised the record levels of testing, even using what some may call questionable or misleading statements. I don’t call them that. They are what they are: lies.
Let’s take a look at one claim in particular that falls short of the truth.
On 12 May, Trump said the U.S. has tested “more than all countries put together”.
This repeated claim is nonsense. According to the BBC, at that date, the U.S. had carried out 9,974,831 tests.
This is more tests than any country, but certainly does not add up to more than the rest of the world.
In fact, the BBC reports that combining figures from Germany, Russia and the U.K. is all that’s needed to overtake the U.S.
Exaggeration in politics is, at the best of times, questionable - but brazenly stretching figures in the midst a public health crisis is utterly unacceptable.
Then, on 14 May, during a speech at a medical supplies distribution centre, the president called testing “overrated”.