US president Donald Trump has lashed out at a journalist who questioned information in a report about coronavirus testing in US hospitals that conflicted with victories the president was claiming.
During his daily COVID-19 response briefing President Trump was asked about the results of the US Department of Health and Human Services report that found three out of four US hospitals surveyed reported a shortage of tests and long waiting times for results.
The report’s findings conflicted with the president’s claims that the US had conducted nearly 1.8 million tests, some with results in as quickly as “five minutes”.
“We are doing an incredible job at testing, we are doing a better job than anyone else in the world right now, there is nobody close and other nations admit this,” Trump claimed.
“The number one complaint from those hospitals were severe shortage of testing supplies and a really long wait time, a week or longer,” Fox News reporter Kristen Fisher told Mr Trump.
“It’s wrong,” the President snapped back.
“This is your own government,” Ms Fisher responded, pointing out that Mr Trump had appointed the inspector general who conducted the survey.
President Trump went on to deflect the question by repeatedly asking the reporter for the name of the inspector general.
“Could politics be entered into that?” he asked before cutting her off.
‘Typical fake news’
Later in the briefing ABC journalist John Karl told the President that the inspector general’s name was Christi Grimm.
“When was she appointed?” Mr Trump asked.
“She did serve on the previous administration,” the reporter replied.
“You mean the Obama administration? Thank you for telling me that ... there’s a typical fake news deal,” Trump interrupted.
The President began a personal attack on Mr Karl and mocked him asking questions.
“You’re a third rate reporter and what you just said was a disgrace,” Mr Trump said.
Mr Karl looked baffled and responded that he was simply answering the president’s question but Mr Trump cut him off again.
“Thank you very much John, you will never make it,” he snapped before ending the briefing.
‘Hardest week yet’
The outburst came a day after the US death toll passed 10,000 and as experts warn it would be the toughest week yet for the country.
“This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans' lives, quite frankly,” US Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned on Fox News on Sunday, local time.
“This is going to be our Pearl Harbour moment, our 9/11 moment, only it's not going to be localised.
“It's going to be happening all over the country. And I want America to understand that.”
A key insight from the report was that different problems are building on each other to entangle the whole system.
For example, a lack of testing and slow results means hospitals must keep patients with unconfirmed coronavirus disease longer.
Of the 323 hospitals in the survey, 117 reported they were treating one or more patients with confirmed COVID-19, while 130 said they were treating one or more patients suspected to have the disease.
Suspected infections are treated similarly, because of the uncertainties around testing. Only 32 hospitals said they were not treating any patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.
“Hospitals anticipated being overwhelmed by a surge in COVID-19 patients, who would need specialty beds and isolation areas for effective treatment,” the report said.
As of 5pm on Tuesday CNN reported there were more than 368,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in America with 10,944 deaths.
New York has the largest number of coronavirus cases with over 131,000 cases and 4,758 deaths.
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