On Thursday President Donald Trump suggested the practice of widespread coronavirus testing may be “overrated,” even as health experts insist it is critical to safely loosen restrictions and reopen businesses.
Trump touted the United States’s testing capabilities during remarks at a Pennsylvania medical equipment distribution center, where he announced the country has administered 10 million tests since the outbreak began.
“We have the best testing in the world,” Trump said in Allentown. “Could be that testing’s, frankly, overrated. Maybe it is overrated.”
“But we have the greatest testing in the world,” he added. “But what we want is we want to get rid of this thing. That’s what we want.”
America now has more than 1.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases, by far the most of any country in the world. But the president suggested the soaring infection numbers were merely a reflection of the country’s testing capacity.
“We have more cases than anybody in the world, but why? Because we do more testing,” Trump said. “When you test, you have a case. When you test you find something is wrong with people. If we didn’t do any testing, we would have very few cases. They don’t want to write that. It’s common sense. We test much more.”
The Trump Administration has drawn intense criticism for its slow initial rollout of coronavirus testing in February and March when the first U.S. cases were reported. Even as testing increased, lawmakers have questioned why the federal government has failed to outline a national testing strategy and instead of deferring to states.
The president has been consistently “optimistic” in assessing his administration’s performance, declaring earlier this week that the U.S. has “prevailed” on testing as he pushes for states to decrease restrictions intended to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Officials in the Administration have pointed to the sheer volume of tests conducted in the U.S. being higher than other countries, though experts have noted places like South Korea began widespread testing much earlier and haven’t suffered through the same level of infections.