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Trump wants you to believe coronavirus cases are “up because we TEST.” He’s wrong.

Vox.com logo Vox.com 10/26/2020 Aaron Rupar
a man wearing a suit and tie: President Trump disembarks from Air Force One upon arrival at Lehigh Valley International Airport in Allentown, Pennsylvania, October 26, 2020. © Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images President Trump disembarks from Air Force One upon arrival at Lehigh Valley International Airport in Allentown, Pennsylvania, October 26, 2020.

In recent days, President Donald Trump has been downplaying the increasingly dire public health situation in the US by reviving a flawed argument he first made in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic — that the reason cases are going up is because the country does so much testing.

“Cases up because we TEST, TEST, TEST. A Fake News Media Conspiracy,” Trump tweeted on Monday morning. “Many young people who heal very fast. 99.9%. Corrupt Media conspiracy at all time high. On November 4th., topic will totally change. VOTE!”

This talking point echoes what Trump has been saying at his recent rallies. On Friday in Florida, for instance, he said, “You know why we have so many [coronavirus] case numbers? Because we do more testing than any country in the world ... there’s plenty good about testing, too. The bad thing is you find cases.”

These comments come as single-day new coronavirus cases in the US hit record highs, spiking from about 35,000 a day in early September to roughly 83,000 on both Friday and Saturday. Trump might have a point if the number of tests conducted each day was experiencing a similar surge — but cases are rising much faster than daily tests.

As CNBC detailed over the weekend:


Video: Trump dismisses COVID-19, calls US top health experts ‘idiots’ (ABC News)

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While Covid-19 testing is up nearly 13% from Oct. 1, new cases have risen at a much faster rate. The seven-day average of new infections is up 51% over that same period, according to Johns Hopkins data.

And it’s not just cases that are rising. According to data from the COVID Tracking Project, coronavirus hospitalizations are up about 33 percent over the past month.

Daily coronavirus deaths have remained relatively flat over the past three months, but experts warn that’s likely to change as cases spike. Instead of engaging with this reality, however, Trump’s closing campaign message has been to spread misinformation about the pandemic — as well as infections at pandemic rallies that make a mockery of basic public health guidelines recommended by his own government.

In another tweet Monday morning, Trump suggested the media only covers the coronavirus so much because it wants to scare people. This also echoes comments he’s made at his recent rallies, where he’s repeatedly suggested the media wouldn’t cover hypothetical plane crashes because outlets are so fixated on the coronavirus.

In reality, the latest spike in cases has pushed hospitals in places like Texas and Utah to the breaking point, and has prompted health care providers to make contingency plans for rationing care. Meanwhile, about 800 Americans are dying each day from Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus — which is roughly the equivalent of three or four plane crashes.

But since taking that state of affairs seriously reflects poorly on the short-term decision-making Trump has employed from day one of the coronavirus pandemic, the president has instead opted for trying to turn reality on its head. And while his fortunes could still change before next Tuesday, polls to date have indicated that with the US coronavirus death toll now north of 225,000, Americans aren’t buying what Trump is trying to sell.

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