On Sunday, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams dodged questions about how many Americans have been tested for coronavirus, continuing a pattern of perplexing, misleading messaging from President Donald Trump’s administration as the virus is spreading throughout the country.
When CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Adams how many people have been tested in the U.S., the surgeon general wouldn’t give a precise answer.
“The numbers are tough because they’re changing minute by minute,” he said. When Tapper pressed Adams for a rough estimate of the number of Americans tested, Adams would only say there are currently 75,000 tests available nationwide, and added that millions more tests will be made available “by the end of the week.” He directed Tapper to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for an estimate about the number of tests actually administered.
Tapper correctly noted that the CDC has removed this data from the official website, and Adams redirected him to the Food and Drug Administration, whose commissioner also announced the number of tests being distributed without sharing how many Americans have actually undergone testing.
“We’re still waiting for a number on that,” Tapper said.
The Trump administration has failed to disseminate a consistent, factual message about COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, largely because Trump himself continues to lie about its causes, its impact and its cures, apparently out of concern for his political prospects.
On Wednesday, Trump defied the CDC’s recommendation, telling the public that it is fine for people with coronavirus to go to work. On Friday, Trump chafed at the idea that passengers who may be infected with the virus might soon disembark a cruise ship that has been sitting off the coast of California.
“I like the numbers being where they are,” Trump said about the current coronavirus data. “I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship.”
On Saturday, the American Conservative Union, which organized the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the end of February, announced that a CPAC attendee has tested positive for coronavirus. Trump spoke at the conference, but the American Conservative Union said the individual had “no interaction” with Trump or Vice President Mike Pence, who also attended.
Speaking to Tapper on Sunday, Adams tried to paint his boss as a picture of good health.
“The president … sleeps less than I do and he’s healthier than what I am,” the surgeon general said.
Medical information has previously shown that Trump has a common form of heart disease and he is known to tweet in the early hours of the morning.