President Trump on Monday downplayed concerns of a rising number of coronavirus cases in states across the country, indicating that the increase was due to more testing.
“If we stop testing right now, we’d have very few cases, if any,” Trump said during a White House event highlighting administration actions to help senior citizens.
Trump has frequently made inconsistent comments on testing. At times he has sought to downplay the severity of the coronavirus pandemic by saying the U.S. has tested more people than any other country, and as a result, the number of confirmed cases is higher.
Trump’s dual views on testing were on full display in a message tweetedMonday morning.
“Our testing is so much bigger and more advanced than any other country (we have done a great job on this!) that it shows more cases. Without testing, or weak testing, we would be showing almost no cases. Testing is a double edged sword – Makes us look bad, but good to have!!!” Trump tweeted.
Vice President Pence made similar comments on Monday, suggesting the White House has already shifted focus from addressing the health impacts of the virus to holding campaign rallies and reopening states as quickly as possible.
The Trump administration has signaled it has no interest in the nation having a new series of lockdowns given the economic damage shutting down the country has already had.
Administration health officials like White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci have played considerably less of a public role since the White House ended daily coronavirus briefings in April.
The pandemic has hit the United States during an election year, and Trump’s poll numbers have fallen in the midst of the crisis.
Yet even as health experts are warning about surges in states such as Texas, Florida, Arizona, Alabama, Oklahoma and Arkansas, Pence said the country has been making “steady progress” toward putting the coronavirus “farther and farther in the past.”
Pence said the spike was likely due to a “dramatic increase in testing.”
The number of coronavirus cases has surged in 20 states over the past week, according to data analyzed by The New York Times. Those numbers can be misleading, as some states are also increasing the number of people tested.
However, some states have seen the number of daily tests decline even as the seven-day average of new cases increases. In other states, the rate of new cases is increasing faster than the increase in the average number of tests.
The percentage of positive test results out of total tests has also been on the rise, meaning states do not have the virus under control despite reopening businesses.
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