President Donald Trump attempted to scapegoat former President Barack Obama for the White House’s initial slowness in combating the coronavirus (COVID-19) by claiming that the Obama Administration enacted a federal regulation that made it harder to administer widespread testing.

Trump tried to divert attention away from the 11 U.S. deaths and over 150 confirmed cases in 13 states associated with the outbreak.

“The Obama administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we’re doing,” Trump said Wednesday in a meeting, which addressed the coronavirus. “And we undid that decision a few days ago so that the testing can take place in a much more rapid and accurate fashion.”

Trump claimed that under Obama, the task of disease testing development had been delegated to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). He noted that this federal policy gave him little to no jurisdiction in the fight against coronavirus.

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Trump made this claim without supporting evidence. A source close to the coronavirus task force told CNN, “that it’s not clear where Trump got his information that an Obama administration rule had somehow slowed diagnostic testing.”

The president could have been referring to an Obama-era proposal, which did not pass, and would have granted the FDA additional power over approving diagnostic tests. He also could have been referring to the 2004 Emergency Use Authorization Authority rule, passed before the Obama Administration, which allowed the FDA to distribute and control the availability of diagnostic tests and other medical measures, needed in public health emergencies.

The White House initially requested  $2.5 billion to control COVID-19, while Congress has allocated around $8.5 billion. The funding measure passed through the House today and is expected to be approved by the Senate and signed into law by Trump.

When a CNN reporter pressed Peter Kyriacopolous, chief policy officer at the Association of Public Health Laboratories, about the source of Trump’s information, Kyriacopolous said, “We aren’t sure what rule is being referenced.”



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