Trump denies he ever said US will do 5 million tests a day — but it was on TV

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Trump said he 'never' said something he very cleary said.

Donald Trump on Wednesday claimed he never said the United States would test 5 million people for coronavirus each day.

"Well, I don't know where it came up. ... Everyone kept saying, 'you said there'd be five.' That was a study that came out. Somebody came out with a study of 5 million people. Do I think we will? I think we will. But I never said it," Trump said.

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But Trump did say that — two times.

Trump's assertions that the United States would meet the 5-million-test threshold came less than 24 hours ago, when a reporter pointed out that health experts believe that many tests need to be conducted daily in order to safely end social distancing measures.

"Some health experts say the U.S. needs 5 million tests per day by June in order to safely reopen. You unveiled a plan yesterday that will increase testing, but not by that much. Why not? And can you get to that benchmark?" NBC News reporter Kristen Welker asked Trump.

Trump replied that his administration will actually do better than 5 million tests per day.

"Well, it will increase it, and it'll increase it by much more than that in the very near future," Trump said.

After he made that assertion, Welker followed up.

"Did I hear you saying you're confident you can surpass 5 million tests per day?" Welker asked.

Trump replied in the affirmative.

"Oh, well, we're going to be there very soon," Trump said. "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've had them if you asked me the same question a little while ago because people with the statistics were there."

Trump might be trying to back away from his assertion that he will help ramp coronavirus testing up because his own testing czar has said that goal is impossible.

"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," Admiral Brett Giroir, who is leading the administration's coronavirus testing response, told Time on Tuesday.

Since January, the United States has done 5.7 million tests for the coronavirus, Giroir told Time. That would make hitting 5 million tests a day an astronomical increase.

Ultimately, Trump has refused to take responsibility for the lack of testing in the United States.

Experts have said that a strong testing response earlier could have prevented the amount of viral spread we've seen so far.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.