‘Badge of honor’: Trump now says high number of U.S. coronavirus cases is a tribute to testing progress

Source: Politico | May 19, 2020 | Caitlin Oprysko

The administration has repeatedly sought to spin its early failures on access to testing throughout the country.

President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he viewed the number of U.S. cases of coronavirus — the highest in the world — as a “badge of honor” because the still-increasing figure is a reflection of the country’s testing capacity.

Trump offered his take on the grim numbers unprompted, when asked by a reporter at the White House whether the administration was weighing restrictions on travel from Brazil. The reporter noted that Brazil, along with Russia, now rank behind only the U.S. in total number of coronavirus infections per country.

“By the way, you know, when you say that we lead in cases, that’s because we have more testing than anybody else,” the president said during a Cabinet meeting. Trump claimed that thus far, the U.S. had conducted nearly 14 million tests, a roughly 3 million-test difference from the latest figures according to the COVID Tracking Project.

Trump reasoned that, along with the increasing number of tests performed in the U.S., the country’s population also factored in to more than 1.5 million Americans testing positive for Covid-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. On top of that, Trump complained, that figure also includes asymptomatic cases rather than just the most debilitating ones. More than 91,000 Americans have died from the virus.

“When we have a lot of cases, I don’t look at that as a bad thing,” the president said. “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?”

“So, I view it as a badge of honor. Really, it’s a badge of honor,” he concluded. “It’s a great tribute to the testing and all of the work that a lot of professionals have done.”

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