Trump says US leading the world in virus cases is a ‘badge of honor’ for testing
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Trump says US leading the world in virus cases is a ‘badge of honor’ for testing

President sees high number of COVID-19 patients ‘in a certain respect as being a good thing’ as it shows more tests done than other countries and less would mean ‘far fewer cases’

US President Donald Trump said Tuesday that it was a “badge of honor” for his country to have the highest number of coronavirus cases in the world, as it shows the US is doing more tests for the virus than anyone else.

“By the way, you know, when you say that we lead in cases, that’s because we have more testing than anybody else,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “When we have a lot of cases, I don’t look at that as a bad thing. I look at that in a certain respect as being a good thing, because it means our testing is much better.

“So, if we were testing a million people instead of 14 million people, it would have far few cases, right? Trump said. “So, I view it as a badge of honor. Really, it’s a badge of honor.”

While the US has carried out more tests overall than any other country, it falls behind in testing per capita.

Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that by Tuesday the US had conducted 12.6 million coronavirus tests.

However, per capita, the US ranks 16th in the world for testing according to Our World in Data, a scientific publication based at Oxford University.

The US has tested 35.75 people per 1,000 in the population, the OWD found. Iceland leads the world with 167.4 tests, followed by Denmark with 69.44 and then Israel with 57.65. The United Kingdom, Italy, and Germany also all rank higher than the US.

Over the past week the US carried out between 300,000 and 400,000 tests each day, according to the volunteer-run Covid Tracking Project.

People cheer for medical workers amid the coronavirus pandemic, New York, May 19, 2020. (Frank Franklin II/AP)

By Wednesday the US had diagnosed more than 1.5 million cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, with more than 93,000 deaths, according to data compiled by the Worldmeter website. Though the US has the highest number of reported coronavirus deaths in the world, it ranks sixth behind Belgium, Spain, Italy the UK, and France in deaths per 100,000 cases.

Last week Harvard Global Health Institute director Ashish Jha told a congressional hearing that “the US needs more than 900,000 tests every day to safely open up again [from lockdown measures]. We are doing about a third of that.”

A lack of testing has dogged the US response from the beginning, when a test developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ran into numerous problems. At a Senate hearing last week Utah Sen. Mitt Romney said the US may finally have outpaced testing leader South Korea but that country has far fewer deaths because it started testing early.

“I find our testing record nothing to celebrate whatsoever,” Romney said.

Trump administration “testing czar” Adm. Brett Giroir said the US could be performing at least 40 million to 50 million tests per month by September. That would work out to between 1.3 million to 1.7 million tests per day.

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