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The coronavirus is a rapidly developing news story, so some of the content in this article might be out of date.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 Mother Jones' newsletters.

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.” 

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight 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

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.