Rosie O'Donnell Slams Donald Trump for Previous Coronavirus Comments: 'He Is Such a Disappointment'
During a video interview shared on TMX News Thursday evening, O’Donnell, who has famously feuded with Trump, 73, slammed the president for previously claiming Democrats wanted to politicize the virus as a “hoax” to damage him.
“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 this week of Trump.
Continuing, O’Donnell brought up the promise of “millions of beautiful tests” for coronavirus.
“We needed the test kits months ago,” she said.
Despite Trump administration claims otherwise, widespread testing in America lagged other countries such as South Korea.
Trump has said that any American who “needs a test gets a test.”
But only in recent days has the testing ramped up — from less than 10,000 total tests last week to more than 100,000 as of Thursday, according to available data — after earlier manufacturing problems with the government test kits and then bureaucratic obstacles.
“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,” O’Donnell said. “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,” she 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.
“From the beginning of time, nations and people have faced unforeseen challenges, including large-scale and very dangerous health threats. This is the way it always was and always will be. It only matters how you respond, and we are responding with great speed and professionalism,” the president said in an Oval Office address to the nation last week.
“For all Americans, it is essential that everyone take extra precautions and practice good hygiene. Each of us has a role to play in defeating this virus,” he said.
O’Donnell’s frustration stems from the weeks of issues around the testing for coronavirus.
The current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines state that “clinicians should use their judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with [the coronavirus disease] COVID-19 and whether the patient should be tested.”
Even then, many patients have said, they had trouble getting tested largely due to a lack of testing kits.
The lack of available testing kits spurred from a manufacturing problem with the first batch of kits, made by the CDC. Correcting that error delayed production, and the CDC had to send 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.
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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, acknowledged on March 12 that the U.S. was “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 last week. “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 testing situation strongly contrasted with other countries. In South Korea, health agencies set up drive-thru testing free to anyone, and they have been testing almost 20,000 people a day.
On Thursday, popular home testing company Everlywell announced that they will have an at-home coronavirus test available by March 23.
Everlywell said in a statement that they launched a $1 million initiative last month to create the COVID-19 tests — among other private companies — and they will become the first to distribute them directly to consumers.
People who are experiencing symptoms of the virus can request the test online by completing a screening questionnaire with a telehealth physician from PWNHealth. The physician will then review the request, based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), to rule out other respiratory diseases first.
Once consumers are approved for the test, they can purchase it for $135 on Everlywell’s website. The company said that this will be “no profit to Everlywell, and will be covered by participating HSA and FSA providers.”
After the test is purchased, it will be shipped to customers with everything needed to collect a sample at home and safely ship it to an FDA-approved laboratory.In addition to expressing her disdain for Trump, O’Donnell this week 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 Sunday 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.
“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.