Trump describes coronavirus testing as 'overrated' and calls for less if virus reemerges
WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump repeated the claim that coronavirus testing was "overrated" and said he would not seek widespread screening if there were a nationwide increase. His latest broadside is against an effort that public health experts believe is crucial to contain the virus.
"Personally, I think testing is overrated even though I've created the largest testing machine in history," Trump told the Wall Street Journal in an interview released Thursday. He added that extended testing led to an increase in confirmed coronavirus cases, which "in many ways make us look bad."
For weeks, the president sharpened criticism of coronavirus testing to explain an increase in cases confirmed daily in several Sun Belt countries. While more tests lead to confirmed cases, experts have found that other factors - including easing orders for staying at home - also play a role.
Trump blamed the new fall wave for more testing on Monday, suggesting that without testing, there would be few new cases. White House officials later clarified that Trump meant there would be fewer confirmed cases if the tests were suspended.
"If we stop testing now, we have very few, if any, cases," Trump said this week.
When asked about this statement, White House spokesman Kayleigh McEnany said it was "perfectly logical".
President Donald Trump enters Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., On June 11, 2020.
"As you run more tests, you identify more cases," she said. "Countries that don't do as many tests don't identify the same number of cases."
The number of cases has increased recently in several states, including Arizona, South Carolina, Texas and Florida. Although experts have not agreed on an explanation, some said that both lifting restrictions and isolated outbreaks have played a role.
Trump relied heavily on governors and local officials to reopen their economies.
The president has argued for weeks that the high number of coronavirus cases in the United States is a reflection of the national test regime. It's a story Trump is likely to repeat on the campaign ahead of the November elections.
While the U.S. has stepped up its tests - the disease control and prevention centers report that more than 25 million tests had been performed by Wednesday - per capita expenditure is still lower than in many other countries.
More: Why a Sudden Rise in Coronavirus? Experts have more than one answer
"Without tests or weak tests, we would hardly show any cases," the president tweeted on Monday. "Testing is a double-edged sword - makes us look bad, but good to have !!!" His comments on Monday reflected the comments he had made for weeks and declined increases because they were based on more advanced testing than other factors.
"If we didn't run tests, we would have very few cases," Trump said during an event on May 15. During the same event, Trump said about tests: "Maybe it's overrated."
He made a similar point weeks earlier in the Oval Office.
"So the media likes to say that we have the most cases, but we are by far the most tests. If we did very few tests, we wouldn't have the most cases," Trump said on May 6. In a way, all of these tests make us look bad. "
In April, the Trump administration announced guidelines to facilitate social distancing. These new recommendations required a 14-day decrease in confirmed cases or a decrease in positive tests as a percentage of the total number of tests over that period. However, some states did not comply with these federal government guidelines before the reopening.
Florida's first reopening began on May 18. Not only had the state not seen a two-week decline in cases, it also reported an increase per day and week before reopening. According to Johns Hopkins University, Florida reported 594 cases on May 10. Five days later there were more than 800 cases.
"This virus is much more blotchy," Arnold Monto, professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan, told USA TODAY last week. "It's so complicated that it is probably not right for people to give you an easy answer."
Another reason why unexpected peaks can occur in some states are, according to experts, "super spreaders", events or closed community outbreaks. A super spreader is an infected person who can spread the disease to a large number of people.
This article originally appeared in the US TODAY: Corona virus: Trump calls testing in the Wall Street Journal interview "overrated"
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