Sen. Mitt Romney has had enough of the Trump administration’s happy talk on testing.
On Monday at the White House, appearing before a banner reading, “America Leads the World in Testing,” President Trump attempted to spin his administration’s deadly testing debacle into a success story: “This week, the United States will pass 10 million tests conducted — nearly double the number of any other country,” Trump said. “We’re testing more people per capita than South Korea, the United Kingdom, France, Japan, Sweden, Finland, and many other countries — and, in some cases, combined.”
Adm. Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, who is now running point on the federal testing effort, puffed up the president and the administration. “No other country in the world comes close to the total numbers,” he said, before echoing the day’s talking point. “No matter how you look at it, America is leading the world in testing.”
But at a hearing of the Senate’s top health committee on Tuesday, Romney took time to dress down the admiral. The Utah senator, the lone Republican vote to impeach Trump, was as forceful and direct as any Democrat on the committee, using his question time to deliver a lecture. “I understand that politicians are going to frame data in a way that’s most positive politically — but, of course, I don’t expect that from admirals,” Romney told Girior.
“Yesterday you celebrated that we had done more tests and more tests per capita, even, than South Korea,” Romney said. “But you ignored the fact that they accomplished theirs at the beginning of the outbreak, while we treaded water during February and March. And as a result, by March 6th, the U.S. had completed just 2,000 tests, whereas South Korea had completed more than 140,000 tests.” Romney underscored that this early testing was critical in South Korea holding its death toll to 256, while the U.S. now has some 80,000 COVID-19 deaths. “I find our testing record nothing to celebrate, whatsoever.”
Romney added that South Korea’s need for testing has gone “down, down, down, down because they don’t have the kind of outbreak we have,” while U.S. testing going “up, up, up” is itself a reflection of the dire state of the pandemic in America.
Watch the exchange below:
Sen. Romney on US testing rate comparisons:
“I find our testing record nothing to celebrate whatsoever. The fact is [South Korea’s] test numbers are going down, down, down now, because they don’t have the kind of outbreak … Ours are going up, up, up, because they have to.” pic.twitter.com/OghY5dn19Q
— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 12, 2020
To read our exposé of how the Trump administration failed the COVID-19 test, click here.