Trump Spent the Beginning of His Coronavirus Briefing Bragging About American Testing. He Shouldn’t.

Patrick Semansky/AP

The coronavirus is a rapidly developing news story, so some of the content in this article might be out of date. Check out our most recent coverage of the coronavirus crisis, and subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

Near the start of his Sunday coronavirus briefing, President Donald Trump waved around a swab and a Q-tip and described how they were different from one another. (It wasn’t the weirdest part of the briefing.) They were visual aids to help him transition into praising his administration for conducting 4.18 million total coronavirus tests—more, he told the assembled reporters, than the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, South Korea, Japan, India, Austria, Singapore, Australia, and Canada had conducted combined.

As much as Trump would like you believe otherwise, that isn’t actually all that great. As Vox recently pointed out, the United States still lags behind countries like South Korea, Italy, and Canada in the number of COVID-19 tests conducted per million people. The US conducts 12,736 tests for every million people; by comparison, Germany leads the pack at 20,874 tests per million.

What’s more, public health experts have insisted widespread testing is necessary to get a better gauge of how widespread the coronavirus is nationwide. And Harvard researchers recently found that the country’s daily testing needs to triple by mid-May for the country to safely reopen. 

Trump wasn’t the only administration official talking up the testing numbers Sunday. Earlier in the day, Vice President Mike Pence went on the morning talk show circuit to say that the 150,000 COVID-19 tests conducted daily were “sufficient for any state in America” to begin lifting restrictions and called on states to activate their labs for more testing. 

As I wrote earlier today, governors weren’t happy:

Pence’s optimism encountered significant pushback from governors on both ends of the aisle on Sunday. “To try to push this off, to say that the governors have plenty of testing and they should just get to work on testing—somehow we aren’t doing our job—is just absolutely false,” Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan told CNN. And Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam slammed the idea that states have enough testing capacity as “just delusional.” 

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate