President Trump on Monday again sought to redirect blame for his coronavirus response to the Obama administration.
Trump, who has repeatedly claimed that increased testing has led to a spike in U.S. COVID-19 cases, was asked by a reporter at the White House whether he was concerned about a resurgence of the virus that has killed more than 135,000 Americans and infected more than 3.3 million.
“We have one of the lowest mortality rates anywhere,” the president said before pivoting to an attack on Barack Obama and Joe Biden, the presumptive 2020 Democratic nominee.
“Biden and Obama stopped their testing,” Trump said. “They just stopped it. You probably know that. I’m sure you don’t want to report it. But they stopped testing. Right in the middle, they just went, ‘No more testing.’”
It’s not entirely clear what Obama-era testing program Trump was referring to. He has previously criticized the Obama administration over its handling of the 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak, which killed about 12,500 Americans. (On Monday he acknowledged that the so-called swine flu was “a much lesser problem than the one we're having.”)
But it’s not the first time Trump has tried to place blame on Obama and Biden for his halting response to the coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 — nearly three years after they left office.
At a briefing of the coronavirus task force in early March, Trump also invoked his predecessor.
“The Obama administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we’re doing,” Trump said. “And we undid that decision a few days ago so that the testing can take place in a much more accurate and rapid fashion.”
According to the Annenberg Public Policy Center’s FactCheck.org, no such rule or regulation was ever implemented under the previous administration.
“The Obama administration did attempt to impose a risk-based system of regulation on laboratory developed tests, or LDTs, and introduced draft guidance in 2014,” FactCheck.org said. “But that guidance was never finalized, and was withdrawn after Trump won the election in 2016.
“There is no formal document that Trump needed to rescind to allow labs to create their own coronavirus tests,” it added.
In late March, Trump claimed that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “inherited a broken test.”
“When CDC first looked at their test, the biggest problem they had is, the test didn’t work,” he said. “That wasn’t from us. That’s been there a long time. Now we have the best tests in the world.”
Politifact’s “Truth-o-Meter” gave the claim a “Pants on Fire” rating.
When the U.S. government began sending test kits out on Feb. 5, the fact-checking site noted, “there was no inherited test because a test couldn’t be created until the new virus had emerged.”
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