Trump calls coronavirus test "perfect" and compares it to Ukraine phone call
President Trump, on a visit to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, asserted that coronavirus tests are available to "anybody." "Anybody that wants a test can get a test," he said. "That's what the bottom line is."
And he added, "Anybody right now and yesterday, anybody that needs a test gets a test. They're there. They have the tests and the tests are beautiful. Anybody that needs a test gets a test. If there's a doctor that wants to test, if there's somebody coming off a ship like the big monster ship that's out there right now, which you know again, that's a big decision. Do I wanna bring all of those people on? People would like me to do that. I don't like the idea of doing it."
He went on to make what seemed to be an unexpected comparison to his controversial communication with the president of Ukraine: "The tests are all perfect, like the letter — was perfect. The transcription was perfect. This was not as perfect as that, but it'll be good."
The claim that the tests are readily available and were widely accessible to anybody "right now and yesterday" is not yet true. Mr. Trump's claim contradicted Vice President Pence, who is heading up the administration's coronavirus response. He said Thursday, "We don't have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward."
On Friday, soon after the president's remarks, the vice president was asked about Mr. Trump's statement that anyone who needs a test can have one. Pence responded, "For the communities impacted that have concerns about the coronavirus, we have been able to respond to requests for tests."
The vice president added that "for the American public to have access to the coronavirus test," two companies, LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics, "just announced that by Monday they will have tests available for distribution and sale."
While at the CDC, the president was also asked about Washington Governor Jay Inslee's criticism of him. Last week, Inslee tweeted that Pence had called him to thank him for the state's efforts to fight coronavirus, and that he had responded, "I told him our work would be more successful if the Trump administration stuck to the science and told the truth."
"I told Mike not to be complimentary to the governor because that governor is a snake, Inslee," Mr. Trump said. He went on to complain that "we have a lot of problems with the governor."
"Mike may be happy with him, but I'm not," he said. Washington had the first coronavirus death in the U.S., and at this point, 13 of the 14 deaths from the virus have occurred in Washington. California has declared a state of emergency as it tests passengers on a cruise ship quarantined off the San Francisco coast. There were at least 230 confirmed cases in 21 states, including Nevada and Colorado, which reported their first cases of COVID-19 on Thursday.
The president is expected to sign a bill hastily passed by Congress this week providing $8.3 billion in emergency supplemental funds for the coronavirus on Friday. The amount is far higher than the $2.5 billion originally requested by President Trump, and in line with the $8 billion proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. The $8.3 billion includes $7.8 billion in discretionary appropriations, plus $500 million in Medicare telehealth mandatory spending, which would allow Medicare providers to furnish telemedicine services to seniors.
The deal includes funding for research and development of vaccines, support for state and local government, and assistance for small businesses, a House Democratic aide told CBS News. The aide also said the package includes $300 million to help ensure that all Americans can afford a potential vaccine.
Fin Gomez, Grace Segers, Sara Cook, Kathryn Watson, Paula Reid, Jane Chick and Victoria Albert contributed to this report.
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