Donald Trump has once again claimed that the US’s surge in coronavirus cases is simply the result of expanded testing – even as the rate of tests coming back positive rises and the country’s death toll increases.
“There is a rise in Coronavirus cases,” he wrote, “because our testing is so massive and so good, far bigger and better than any other country. This is great news, but even better news is that death, and the death rate, is DOWN. Also, younger people, who get better much easier and faster!”
Mr Trump has repeatedly boasted of the US’s testing prowess ever since tests were first rolled out, including wrongly claiming that the country had outperformed the rest of the world before it had even caught up.
He also said in May that testing “isn’t necessary”, that the US’s case count was a “badge of honour” because it implied a better testing programme, and that he had asked for testing to be slowed down because finding cases was making the US look bad.
Mr Trump’s claim that the expansion of testing is the sole reason that the US is counting more cases has been debunked and ridiculed many times. However, his latest assertion comes as several states see worrying increases not only in cases, but in hospitalisations – and in the proportion of tests coming back positive.
And as White House adviser Anthony Fauci recently told a Senate committee, deaths “always lag considerably behind cases”, meaning that even though fatalities declined in May and June, a new uptick is to be expected in the coming weeks and months.
As for Mr Trump’s claim that the number of cases is being inflated by “younger people, who get better much easier and faster”, while there is some evidence that infections are rising among younger people, the implications are complex.
It is certainly true that older people are more at risk of dying from Covid-19, serious and life-threatening symptoms are far from unknown among the young, including teenagers and small children. And beyond that, young people with the virus are at risk of spreading it to older, more vulnerable people.
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