President Donald Trump contradicted statements from his own administration on Friday by saying “anyone who wants a test can get a test” in response to the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. 

Alex Azar, the health and human services secretary, cautioned the public that  only those who have gone to a doctor can be approved for a test. “You may not get a test unless a doctor or public health official prescribes a test,” he said in an off-camera White House briefing. “That is our medical system in the United States, in the same way that you may not get a cardiac medicine if your doctor doesn’t prescribe that.”

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This is just one of many recent instances of officials correcting Trump’s claims surrounding the coronavirus. The administration has come under harsh criticism from the public for mixed messages and lack of information. More than 100 new cases were announced across the country. 

Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, a former top F.D.A. an official who teaches at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said, “Things change in a crisis — the advice may change in a crisis. And so it’s really important for the public to have confidence in the messages and the messengers so that they understand and believe new information and advice.”

Azar defended Trump by saying his statement reflected a recent shift in regulations. “What the president said yesterday at the C.D.C., that is consistent with what the F.D.A. and the C.D.C. are saying, which is we as regulators, or as those shipping the test, are not restricting who can get tested,” he said. “We are leaving that to the professional judgment of doctors and public health officials.”

He added that the president “knows the numbers,” and is briefed daily. 

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