Trump says doing too much coronavirus testing makes the US 'look bad' as he pushes for the country to reopen

Tom Brenner/ReutersPresident Donald Trump with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on May 6.
  • President Donald Trump thinks that too much coronavirus testing makes the US “look bad.”
  • “The media likes to say we have the most cases, but we do, by far, the most testing. If we did very little testing, we wouldn’t have the most cases. So, in a way, by doing all of this testing, we make ourselves look bad,” Trump said on Wednesday.
  • The US still lags behind other countries in terms of the share of the population tested for coronavirus.
  • Public-health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have warned against reopening the country and easing coronavirus restrictions without a robust testing system in place.
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Though public-health experts have consistently said the US needs to ramp up testing for the coronavirus to contain and defeat it, President Donald Trump does not see it that way.

On Wednesday, Trump said that too much testing makes the US “look bad.”

“So the media likes to say we have the most cases, but we do, by far, the most testing. If we did very little testing, we wouldn’t have the most cases. So, in a way, by doing all of this testing, we make ourselves look bad,” Trump said during a meeting with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds.

“For instance, they would say we have more than China. I don’t think so. We have more than other countries. I don’t think so. But by doing all of the testing … we’re going to have more cases because we do more testing. Otherwise, you don’t know if you have a case. I think that’s a correct statement,” Trump added.

Trump’s comments on Wednesday were reminiscent of when the president said he didn’t want infected patients from a cruise ship to disembark because it would increase the number of cases for the US. “I like the numbers being where they are. I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault,” Trump said in a Fox News interview in March.

The US is the centre of the coronavirus pandemic, with the most reported cases and confirmed deaths. Trump apparently blames this on the number of tests performed in the US.

Testing for the coronavirus has been a major issue in the US for months, as the country’s response has been hampered by nationwide shortages in test kits.

The US has performed more coronavirus tests than any other country in terms of the overall count, but it still lags behind a number of other countries in terms of the share of its population being tested. Germany and Italy, for example, have both tested more residents per million people than the US, according to data from Worldometer.

The testing issues in the US are linked to early stumbles at the federal level. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention sent out faulty test kits in February, putting the US way behind in terms of its response to the virus.

Trump has often berated reporters who’ve asked about the testing shortages while embellishing testing capacity in the US. In March, when he was asked about the testing shortages, Trump said he did not take responsibility “at all.”

Meanwhile, the president has pushed for the country to reopen and ease restrictions in place as quickly as possible, even as he acknowledged that reopening could lead to a spike in deaths.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top expert on infectious diseases, in March said the US was “failing” in terms of testing. Fauci, who’s on the White House coronavirus task force, in April said the US needed to double testing for COVID-19 before reopening.

Without sufficient levels of testing, the US doesn’t have a comprehensive picture of the scale of the outbreak within its borders.

As of Thursday morning, there were over 1.2 million confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US and more than 73,000 reported deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The US has conducted about 7.7 million tests for the coronavirus so far, according to the COVID Tracking Project, which accounts for about 2.3% of the total population.

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