The White House's line on testing manages to get even worse

"Ultimately, we're doing more testing, I think, than probably any of the governors even want," Trump said. Reality points in a different direction.
Image: People use a newly approved saliva-based coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test at a testing site in Edison, New Jersey
Health workers start the process to test people in a car as they use a newly approved saliva-based coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test at a testing site during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in Edison, New Jersey on April 15, 2020.Eduardo Munoz / Reuters
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By Steve Benen

At yesterday's White House press briefing, Donald Trump raised three separate points about virus testing, each of which were wrong in different ways. Let's tackle them one at a time.

"The testing problem. We've done more than any other nation in the world. Go a step further: If you added up the testing of every nation in the world, put them together, we've done substantially more than that. You people aren't satisfied."

I wish this were true. It's not. As a Vox report explained this week, the United States is "nowhere close to doing more testing than all other countries combined. Well over 20 million tests have been conducted across the world, and just over 4 million have been done in the United States."

What's more, while it's true that the total number of U.S. tests may sound impressive, on a per-capita basis, other countries have done far more.

"[I]t's very much of media trap.... Some people want to do testing because they think it's impossible for us to fulfill that goal. That's easy compared to ventilators, as I've said."

This kind of conspiratorial thinking continues to confound. Trump peddled a very similar line on Monday, making the case that proponents of ramped up testing are merely trying to "get him."

In reality, as we've discussed, there is no conspiracy. Governors, including plenty of Republicans, want ramped up testing, not to "get" Trump, but because public-health officials have explained the importance of testing as a prerequisite to re-opening society.

"[W]e're doing tremendous testing. And ultimately, we're doing more testing, I think, than probably any of the governors even want."

Of the three points from the White House yesterday, this was the one I found the strangest. To hear the president tell it, there are governors who'd prefer if officials did less testing.

If Trump or his team could identify some of these governors, I'm all ears.