/Trump calls high number of coronavirus cases in the US a badge of honor, attributes it to testing

Trump calls high number of coronavirus cases in the US a badge of honor, attributes it to testing

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Tuesday called the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States – the highest in the world – a “badge of honor,” arguing the still-increasing number of cases is simply evidence the country is testing more people.

“By the way, you know, when you say that we lead in cases, that’s because we have more testing than anybody else,” the president said at the White House. “When we have a lot of cases, I don’t look at that as a bad thing. I look at that in a certain respect as being a good thing, because it means our testing is much better. So, if we were testing a million people instead of 14 million people, it would have far few cases, right?

“So, I view it as a badge of honor. Really, it’s a badge of honor,” Trump said.

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The U.S. has performed more than 12 million tests, according to the Covid Tracking Project. However, the country still faces testing shortages after months of hurdles in development and access. 

At a Senate hearing last week, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said U.S. testing for coronavirus is “nothing to celebrate” because the country “treaded water” during the early stages of the pandemic while other countries such as South Korea tested people aggressively to curb the outbreak.

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Romney said by March 6, the U.S. had conducted only 2,000 tests while South Korea had completed 140,000. Romney He said more aggressive testing was part of the reason why South Korea has had more success in fighting the virus.

South Korea has had 263 COVID-19 deaths, while the U.S. surpassed 92,000 Tuesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

It took the U.S. until mid-April to pass South Korea in testing, which confirmed its first COVID-19 case on the same day, and until April 25 to surpass Finland.  

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Trump is correct when he says the U.S. has the most completed tests by any nation. However, that represents a single test for approximately 3.7% of the population. 

The U.S. still trails many nations in per capita testing, including the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany.

Despite ramping up national testing in the U.S., health experts have raised concerns that not enough are being done for state’s to safely reopen. 

Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told a congressional panel monitoring the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic last week that, “The U.S. needs more than 900,000 tests every day to safely open up again. We are doing about a third of that.”

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Trump recently said: “If we did very little testing, [America] wouldn’t have the most cases. So, in a way, by doing all of this testing, we make ourselves look bad.”