At a decidedly smaller than expected rally in Tulsa on Saturday, June 20, President Trump announced that he had asked officials in the administration to slow down testing of Covid-19 because testing was resulting in too many cases.
Testing is a critical step in containing the deadly pandemic which has infected over 2.32 million people and claimed the life of 122,000 in the US alone.
In the speech, Trump announced the US has conducted over 25 million Covid-19 tests before claiming that “testing is a double-edged sword” because there is a correlation between the high number of tests and the fact that the US is the number one country for both infections and deaths from Covid-19.
“Here's the bad part," Trump said. "When you do testing to that extent, you're gonna find more people, you're gonna find more cases. So I said to my people: slow the testing down, please!”
It's unclear what Trump thinks he means. He made a similar claim last week, suggesting if the US stopped testing, it would have very few cases, reports Business Insider. A spokesperson for the president told Buzzfeed that it was said in jest and that “more testing means finding more cases of the virus.” However, more testing doesn't automatically mean more cases, as demonstrated in South Korea and Germany, two countries mentioned by Trump in the speech. Tests are not going to find cases if the cases don't exist.
In the two countries mentioned, you’d need between 100 and 1,000 tests to find a single case of Covid-19. In the US, it is between 20 and 40. The disparity is in how they acted at the beginning of the pandemic: rolling out testing nationally, putting in place necessary lockdown measures, and listening to medical professionals and scientific advisors. Testing, tracing, and isolating people that testing positive for the virus is key to managing the pandemic.
The return to the campaign trail also saw Trump double down on racist terms that have already caused widespread condemnation when used by himself and his administration to talk about the virus, such as the “China virus” and “Kung Flu”. This latter moniker has been used to stoke up racial prejudices against Asian people as the virus, known as SARS-CoV-2, is not related to the flu viruses and Covid-19 is not flu-like.
Very few people wore masks at the rally, the President's first since the pandemic hit, which went ahead despite warnings from health officials that it risked fuelling a spike in coronavirus cases. Luckily the numbers were nowhere near what the current administration had been expecting.
Increasingly, places across the world are acting like the pandemic is over, but this is far from the truth. The World Health Organization just announced that yesterday, Sunday, June 21 was the largest single-day increase in Covid-19 cases globally since the pandemic began, with over 183,000 new cases, 36,617 of which were from the US.