Rosie O'Donnell Slams Donald Trump for Previously Calling Coronavirus a 'Hoax'
Rosie O’Donnell is expressing her disappointment in President Donald Trump in response to how he has handled the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
During a video interview shared on TMX News Thursday evening, O’Donnell, who has famously feuded with Trump, 73, in the past, slammed the president for previously calling coronavirus a “hoax.”
“There’s tremendous confusion, and it comes right from President Trump and it started from him saying it was a hoax, a democratic hoax,” O’Donnell said.
At a rally in South Carolina on Feb. 28, Trump shrugged off the virus saying, “They tried anything, they tried it over and over. And this is their new hoax.”
“At this level of crisis that he would choose to go that way I mean — he really is such a disappointment to so many people on so many different levels,” O’Donnell, 57, said of Trump.
Continuing, O’Donnell brought up the promise of “millions of beautiful tests” for coronavirus.
“We needed the test kits months ago. No one answered why he decided to not take the World Health Organization tests. I think it was for him to try making the tests in the United States,” O’Donnell said.
“We need to — when this is over — to get through the reasons why things happened as they did, so we can make sure this never happens again. We’re looking forward to a time when the nation has a leader they can trust, who doesn’t lie to them.”
“The fact that there is no federal leadership is adding to the anxiety that the country has,” O’Donnell added.
“In November I think Americans will use their voices loud and strong,” O’Donnell said of the upcoming election.
The White House did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request to comment.
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O’Donnell’s frustration stems from the mixed messaging about testing for coronavirus.
The current Centers for Disease Control guidelines say that people who think they should be tested can go to their doctor, who will then determine if their symptoms warrant a test. But even then, it’s not that simple, and Americans say they’re being turned away, largely due to a lack of testing kits.
Though Trump has said that any American who “needs a test gets a test,” that has not yet been the case. The CDC told lawmakers last week that they have tested around 3,800 people, and outside laboratories have tested an additional 7,800 — 11,600 is just a tiny fraction of the U.S. population.
The lack of available testing kits spurs from a manufacturing problem with the first batch of kits, made by the CDC. Correcting that error delayed production, and the CDC has only recently started sending the new versions out to states.
Additionally, the CDC restricted private health companies and academic institutions from creating their own kits without approval from the Food and Drug Administration until Feb. 29. While many, including Kaiser Permanente, are now beginning production, their kits will come after the virus has spread across the country.
The messaging about testing has significantly differed within the Trump administration. While Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on March 10 that over 1 million tests “are now out,” NPR reported, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that the U.S. is “failing” in their capacity to test for coronavirus.
“The system is not really geared to what we need right now — what you are asking for,” Fauci, told House lawmakers during hearings on March 12. “The idea of anybody getting it easily the way people in other countries are doing it, we’re not set up for that. Do I think we should be? Yes. But we’re not.”
“That is a failing. It is a failing. Let’s admit it,” he said.
The U.S.’s current testing situation strongly contrasts with other countries. In South Korea, health agencies set up drive-thru testing that is free to anyone, and they are testing almost 20,000 people a day.
In addition to expressing her disdain for Trump, O’Donnell opened up about how she’s giving back to the community during this difficult time.
For a one-night only event, O’Donnell will return to host her namesake show, PEOPLE previously announced.
The special event, which will broadcast live March 22 on Broadway.com, will be a live streaming fundraiser for The Actors Fund in order to help amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has resulted in Broadway canceling all performances until April 13.
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“Everybody who knows me knows that Broadway has been one of the brightest lights in my life since the time I was a little girl. It has also been the lifeblood of New York City for generation after generation. After all Broadway has given to the world, now — in this time of tremendous need — it’s our turn to give something back,” O’Donnell, a 12-time Emmy Award winner and Tony Award recipient, said in a statement. “There is no better way to support this community than via The Actors Fund. And, with a line-up like this, I dare you not to tune in.”
During her video interview shared by TMX News, O’Donnell said she is donating $100,000 to the fund.
As of Thursday, there are now at least 10,201 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes ,PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.
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