President Donald Trump claimed in a newly aired Fox News interview Sunday that the United States is the “envy of the world” when it comes to Covid-19 testing capacity, a boast that came as state and local leaders continue to raise alarm about widespread equipment shortages and delays as coronavirus infections surge nationwide.
Pressed by Fox News’ Chris Wallace on rising Covid-19 infections, shortages of testing kits and personal protective equipment for frontline workers, and rapidly dwindling hospital capacity, Trump—who is attempting to block billions of dollars in new funds for testing and contact tracing—said he takes responsibility for the U.S. response to the pandemic but added that “some governors have done poorly.”
“They’re supposed to have supplies… I supplied everybody,” the president said. “Now we have somewhat of a surge in certain areas. In other areas we’re doing great. But we have a surge in certain areas. But you don’t hear people complaining about ventilators, we’ve got all the ventilators we could use, we’re supplying them to other countries.”
“We have more tests by far than any country in the world,” Trump said. When Wallace pointed out that the Covid-19 positivity rate is rising sharply even as more tests are conducted, Trump said dismissively: “Many of those cases are young people that would heal in a day. They have the sniffles and we put it down as a test.”
“Cases are up because we have the best testing in the world,” Trump said, once again falsely blaming the increase in testing for the growing number of cases in the U.S., which now leads the world in number of confirmed infections. “No country has ever done what we’ve done in terms of testing. We are the envy of the world. They call, and they say, ‘The most incredible job anybody’s done is our job on testing.”
“They have the sniffles … many of those cases shouldn’t even be cases” — Trump is still downplaying the severity of contracting Covid-19 pic.twitter.com/cT24njBK9n
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 19, 2020
As the Associated Press reported Saturday, Trump’s portrayal of the U.S. coronavirus testing system as the “best in the world” is undermined by the realities numerous states are facing as Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations spike:
Here are some snapshots from what President Donald Trump describes as the nation with the “best testing in the world” for the coronavirus:
In Sun Belt states where the virus is surging, lines of cars with people seeking tests snake for hours in the beating sun, often yielding results so far after the fact that they’re useless.
In Pittsburgh, adults who are afraid they’ve been exposed to the coronavirus are being asked to skip testing if they can quarantine at home for 14 days to help reduce delays and backlogs.
In Hawaii, the governor will wait another month to lift a two-week quarantine on visitors because of test supply shortages and delays that potential visitors are facing in getting results.
Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University, told AP that “it’s essentially worthless to have a test result that comes back after 48 hours.”
“We are nowhere near being able to rein in this virus with the amount of testing we have available at the moment,” said Wen. “Testing is the linchpin.”
Is your state doing enough testing?
Short answer: 39 states don’t meet basic testing target
A few are close
Most are far, far away
We aren’t doing too much testing. We are doing too fewhttps://t.co/bNYgci40sg
— Ashish “The pandemic is still with us” Jha (@ashishkjha) July 10, 2020
Blair Holladay, CEO of the American Society for Clinical Pathology, told USA Today on Saturday that because the Trump administration has failed to implement a national testing strategy, “states are duking it out for supply chains.”
“It’s the Wild, Wild West,” said Holladay.
In an appearance on NBC‘s “Meet the Press” Sunday morning, Colorado’s Democratic Gov. Jared Polis said “the national testing scene is a complete disgrace.”
“Every test we send out to private lab partners nationally, Quest, Labcorp, seven days, eight days, nine days—maybe six days if we’re lucky,” Polis said of the amount of time it typically takes to get test results back. “Almost useless from an epidemiological or even diagnostic perspective.”
“Fortunately, our state lab has done yeoman’s work,” Polis continued. “We’re running three shifts a day there, 24 hours a day. So while some are still sent out of state, and unfortunately that takes a long time and we can’t count on it and our country needs to get testing right, we’re trying to build that capacity in Colorado.”