President Trump’s comments Tuesday that he wasn’t kidding about telling officials to slow coronavirus testing have gotten all the publicity. But Trump also indicated Monday in an interview with Scripps that he meant it.

In the same Scripps interview, Trump suggested the increased testing was picking up many less-serious and perhaps negligible coronavirus cases among young people. “You’re showing people that are asymptomatic,” Trump said. “You’re showing people that have very little problem. You’re showing young people that don’t have a problem.”

The problem with those comments, of course, is that even if less-serious cases are picked up, those are still cases of people who could communicate the disease. Those are actually the cases you want to isolate, because a lack of knowledge might lead to transmission.

In an interesting exchange Tuesday with GOP Rep. Pete Olson (Tex.), Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, roundly but indirectly rebutted Trump’s comments.

While asking the question, Olson noted that his area of the country — the Houston area — is dealing with a particularly pronounced outbreak. Olson had strong words for young adults who have flouted social distancing guidelines while reemerging in society.

“This is because of their attitude,” Olson said of rising numbers among young adults. “My former boss, [former senator] Phil Gramm [R-Tex.] said it best about these people — how they view this crisis. Bending the covid vaccine curve and ending the pandemic ‘is like going to heaven. Everyone wants to go there, but fewer and fewer want to do the hard work to make it happen.’ I call this the ‘Bad Attitude Curve.’”

Olson then asked Fauci how, if he were “king for a day,” he would change that Bad Attitude Curve “and make these people address this issue for the threat it truly is.”

Fauci’s comments in response bore almost no resemblance to what Trump had said a day earlier. Here they are, at length:

I’ve never seen a single virus that is one pathogen have a range from 20 to 40 percent of the people have no symptoms, to some get mild symptoms, to some get symptoms enough to put them at home for a few days, some are in bed for weeks and have symptoms even after they recover, others go to the hospital, some require of oxygen, some require intensive care, some get intubated, and some die.
So you have a situation that is very confusing to people because some people think it’s trivial — ‘It doesn’t bother me, who cares?’ And that’s one of the reasons why what we do have is a lack of appreciation. You have a dual responsibility. You have a responsibility to yourself, because I think thinking that young people have no deleterious consequences is not true. We’re seeing more and more complications in young people. But even though the majority — the overwhelming majority of them — do well, what you can’t forget is that, if you get infected and spread the infection, even though you do not get sick, you are part of the process of the dynamics of an outbreak. And what you might be propagating, inadvertently — perhaps innocently — is infecting someone who then infects someone who then is someone who’s vulnerable. That could be your grandmother, your grandfather, your sick uncle — whom have you — who winds up dying. So it’s a very difficult messaging when people say, ‘I’m young, I’m healthy, who cares?’ You should care not only for yourself, but for the impact you might have on the dynamics of the outbreak.

That is a very different message than the one Trump offered Monday, and it speaks to the importance of testing even in cases that might never ultimately wind up being serious themselves.

They also reinforce how dissonant Trump’s commentary on this matter is, when compared with the people who know better.