Birx Privately Urges Guvs To Ramp Up Testing As Trump Attempts To Muzzle It

Response coordinator for White House Coronavirus Task Force Deborah Birx speaks at a meeting with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House on April 28, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
|
June 23, 2020 3:38 p.m.

White House COVID-19 task force member Dr. Deborah Birx urged governors to increase testing for COVID-19 during a private call on Monday, even as President Donald Trump moves to pull the plug on federally funded local testing sites.

“Hopefully I have left you with the impression that increased testing is good,” Birx told the governors, per the Daily Beast. “We would like to even see it even more.”

The doctor stressed the importance of identifying asymptomatic COVID-19 cases, saying that doing so “will really help us protect the elderly and the additional people with comorbidities.”

Meanwhile, Trump has openly disparaged testing due to how tests reveal more cases of the virus and reflect poorly on his response to the pandemic as a result. After declaring during his campaign rally on Saturday that he had asked him administration to “slow the testing down,” Trump doubled down on Tuesday and told reporters he wasn’t joking.

Newsletters
Get TPM in your inbox, twice weekly.
Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

“I don’t kid, let me make it clear,” he said.

Additionally, the federal government will yank federal funding for local testing sites by the end of the month, TPM exclusively reported Tuesday.

However, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Birx’s fellow member of the White House’s task force, told Congress on Tuesday that the Trump administration had not ordered him nor his colleagues to curb the tests.

“To my knowledge, none of us have ever been told to slow down on testing,” Fauci said.

Several hours after Trump stated he wasn’t kidding about telling officials to tamp down on testing, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany still insisted he was “using sarcasm” when he made the comment at the rally.

“What he was making was a serious point, and that’s why he said, ‘I don’t kid.’ He was noting he was making a serious point, but he was using sarcasm to do that at the rally,” McEnany said in her head-spinning explanation of her boss’ remarks. “And the serious point he was making is that when you test more people, you identify more cases.”

Latest News
Comments are now Members-Only

Non-members are still able to read comments, but will no longer be able to participate. To join the conversation, sign up now and get:

30% Off Annual Prime Membership

TPM strives to build as inclusive a community as financially possible. We offer FREE memberships to those experiencing financial hardship and FREE memberships for students.

View all options
Comments
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: