Trump condemns CDC for lack of coronavirus testing, blames Obama

The president called the past administration's response to the swine flu, H1N1, pandemic a "full-scale disaster."
Image: Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at National Institutes of Health, and Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the Rayburn House Office Building on
Dr. Anthony Fauci, left, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, with Dr. Robert Redfield, CDC director, on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.Drew Angerer / Getty Images

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By Rebecca Shabad

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Friday criticized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for being ill-prepared to test for the coronavirus and he blamed former President Barack Obama for the situation.

"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. President Obama made changes that only complicated things further," he wrote.

In a follow-up tweet, Trump continued his broadside: "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!"

During the announcement on Friday afternoon that he would be declaring a national emergency, Trump again assigned blame to others.

"No, I don't take responsibility at all," he said about the delays. "Because we were given a set of circumstances."

On Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified at a House hearing that the U.S. has failed to meet the capacity for testing.

"The system is not really geared to what we need right now," he said. “That is a failing. Let's admit it."

Two issues have led to the slow process in testing for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. One was that the CDC had initially put out narrow guidelines for who could be considered for testing. Those criteria were eventually expanded and so far about 11,000 specimens have been tested, according to the agency. South Korea, on the other hand, has been testing nearly 20,000 people each day for the disease, according to reports.

There were also technical issues with the test kits in which they tested for more than just the coronavirus, and the glitch affected the integrity of the kit.

Trump tweeted Thursday that "Sleepy Joe Biden was in charge of the H1N1 epidemic which killed thousands of people," and said that "the response was one of the worst on record."

Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates responded that Trump should focus on fighting the current outbreak instead of "desperately tweeting lies about the Obama-Biden Administration."