Almost eight weeks ago, President Trump appeared at the CDC and announced, “Anyone who wants a test can get a test.” That was approximately as correct as promising anybody who wants a private jet can get one. Rather than own up to the lie, or even to quietly pull back to a more realistic schedule of promises, Trump has continued telling wild lies about testing availability.
Yesterday, a reporter asked the president if and when the country could reach the benchmark of 5 million coronavirus tests per day recommended by some public-health experts. “Well, it will increase it, and it’ll increase it by much more than that in the very near future,” he replied, before rambling on semi-coherently. The reporter followed up, “Sorry, are you saying you’re confident you can surpass 5 million tests per day?” Trump responded in the affirmative:
Well, we’re going to be there very soon. If you look at the numbers, it could be that we’re getting very close. I mean, I don’t have the exact numbers. We would have had them if you asked me the same question a little while ago, because people with the statistics were there. We’re going to be there very soon.
We’re not going to be there very soon. And we’re not getting close. Current testing numbers are running at about 300,000 a day. Hitting the 5 million–a-day mark would require approximately a 25-fold increase in daily testing capacity. It’s obviously not imminent.
Also yesterday, Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary of health, who runs the government’s testing response, told Time, “There is absolutely no way on Earth, on this planet or any other planet, that we can do 20 million tests a day, or even five million tests a day.”
Trump’s underlings usually know to steer clear of directly contradicting the boss’s lies, but in this case, Time asked Giroir about testing levels in the morning, and then Trump decided to go ahead and lie about it that afternoon.