While new White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany still has not held her first press briefing yet, she hasn’t wasted any time filling the lie-filled shoes of her infamous predecessors.
On Thursday, the former right-wing TV pundit and outspoken racism apologist took to Twitter to deliver a Sean Spiceresque series of tweets which praised the president and claimed that thanks to Trump, we have “quickly developed” the “most expansive and accurate” testing system in the world and celebrates the fact that we have conducted 3.3 million tests, more than any country in the world.
Under President @realDonaldTrump’s leadership we have quickly developed the most expansive and accurate testing system in the world.
— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) April 16, 2020
As a result, the United States has now conducted more than 3.3 million tests, FAR MORE than any other country in the world.
— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) April 16, 2020
While this may look good at first glance, there’s a lot of problems with her claims.
First off, we had to develop a testing system extremely quickly because the Donald Trump administration deliberately slow-walked testing, knowing it would have led to the discovery of more coronavirus cases and potentially damage his re-election chances.
On top of that, the Trump administration decided to refuse to accept the test kits that the World Health Organization was shipping to countries around the world at the end of February and played a key role in enabling the spread of the virus.
Instead, reports POLITICO, they decided to go ahead with an American-made test that inevitably was delayed by manufacturing issues, lab contamination, and logistical problems.
More importantly is the insinuation that we have been testing more people than anyone in the world. While the virus was first picking up steam in February, America lagged far behind the rest of the world in testing and in declaring quarantine protocols, allowing the virus to spread at ease through major population centers.
VOX’s Dylan Scott reports that “the US has improved from ‘horrifically bad’ to ‘woefully short’ on Covid-19 tests.” Far from being the “most expansive in world, America’s COVID-19 testing system is an absolute mess.
”The system is decentralized and not coordinated…And the federal government has not stepped in to provide that coordination and help ramp up the manufacturing. Finally, we have such a testing deficit that we are playing a terrible game of catch-up,” warned Kaiser Family Foundation global health director Jen Kates to VOX.
Testing falls woefully short in U.S.: “Nationally, an average of 145,000 people have been tested for the virus/day over the past week.” In total, the US. has administered 3.26 million tests, which comes to just 1% of the population. https://t.co/2RwymTSB2N
— Ali Velshi (@AliVelshi) April 16, 2020
As recently as yesterday, CNN was reporting that states had recieved the “rapid testing systems” being celebrated by Trump and his staff but weren’t given enough tests to make them effective.
US governors and state health officials expressed frustration after receiving rapid testing systems touted by President Trump, but only enough tests for 115 peoplehttps://t.co/YqV3VdIuNz
— CNN (@CNN) April 16, 2020
Sadly, the actual number of tests don’t matter nearly as much as does the per-capita rate of testing, which the United States still trails the rest of the world in.
Germany’s rigorous and efficient testing program has allowed them to consider re-opening their economy on the schedule that President Trump is hoping for — but we won’t reach that level of testing for another month and a half, thanks to the President’s unforgivable decision to try to pretend the pandemic wasn’t happening and avoid a public relations crisis.
“Germany has been testing at twice the US rate,” says Len Yaffe. “At the current rate of testing, the US should reach Germany’s .. around May 22. That does not validate a desire to loosen restrictions; rather, it should serve as an earliest possible consideration” – @SeekingAlpha pic.twitter.com/FWB5W9oXvX
— Carl Quintanilla (@carlquintanilla) April 16, 2020
Instead, he’s earned himself a national disaster, an economy in recession, unprecedented levels of unemployment, and tens of thousands of dead Americans who might still be alive today if he had done his job.
Kaleigh McEnany’s out-of-context brags and sycophantic praise of the man who mismanaged and possibly deliberately exacerbated this crisis makes it clear that we cannot expect any honesty or reliable information from the White House’s official mouthpieces anytime soon.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.