(NEW YORK POST) – President Trump on Friday blasted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — the agency at the forefront of the nation’s battle against the coronavirus — and blamed the Obama administration for making changes “that only complicated things further.”
“For decades the @CDCgov looked at, and studied, its testing system, but did nothing about it. It would always be inadequate and slow for a large scale pandemic, but a pandemic would never happen, they hoped,” the president said in a tweet.
“President Obama made changes that only complicated things further,” he continued. “Their response to H1N1 Swine Flu was a full scale disaster, with thousands dying, and nothing meaningful done to fix the testing problem, until now. The changes have been made and testing will soon happen on a very large scale basis. All Red Tape has been cut, ready to go!”
The president, who has been in office for more than three years, has previously blamed Obama for a slow start to coronavirus testing — and hailed himself for casting aside an “Obama rule” to speed testing for the virus.
He said it was his predecessor’s fault amid criticism of the slow US COVID-19 testing rollout compared to other countries.
Reps for the White House and Vice President Mike Pence — Trump’s point person on the pandemic — have not provided additional information on the “Obama rule.”
On Thursday, CDC chief Dr. Robert Redfield testified on Capitol Hill that public health officials discussed coronavirus information in classified rooms on occasions “too numerous to count,” though he said the information wasn’t treated as classified.
Reuters reported Wednesday that the White House ordered federal health officials at the Department of Health and Human Services to treat top-level coronavirus meetings as classified, citing four Trump administration officials.
National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot later emailed Reuters, saying, “The White House has never ordered any agency ‘to treat top-level coronavirus meetings as classified,’” as the story alleged.
“This story is fake news,” he wrote.
Asked about the Reuters report, Redfield told the House Oversight and Reform Committee of the meetings, “We’re holding them in a classified room, the nature and the content of those conversations are not classified.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told lawmakers Thursday that the nation’s testing record to date was “a failing.”
“The idea of anybody getting it easily the way people in other countries are doing it, we’re not set up for that. Do I think we should be? Yes. But we’re not,” Fauci testified.
Trump on Thursday defended the country’s progress testing people for the virus.
“They had a million tests up now over the next few days. They’ll have 4 million — if you go to the right area, you will get the tests. With that being said, millions are being produced. It is a brand new thing that is happening, millions are being produced,” he said.