Trump says U.S. overtakes world in coronavirus testing, but country remains far

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The administration has said it will distribute $ 11 billion to states to facilitate testing – from money already approved by Congress for coronavirus relief – as Trump claimed, “We have encountered the moment and we triumphed. He said the United States is expected to pass 10 million tests completed this week, “almost double the number of any other country.”

Officials described the plan in front of huge banners proclaiming “America is the world leader in testing.” Trump said that with federal aid, each state would be able to test more people per capita in May than South Korea had tested in four months. South Korea is often touted as a model for deploying tests and using the results to slow the spread of the deadly virus.

But the White House event on Monday afternoon resulted in the recognition that there is not yet enough testing capacity in the United States, even though more than 40 states are at some stage of lift restrictions on travel, work and school. President’s claims about US benchmark tests ignore what health experts have criticized as slow testing capacity in the United States this spring, a delay some attribute to the rapid spread of the virus, growing death toll and uncertainty about the way forward.

“Testing is absolutely essential and is the only way to get back to work in a safer form,” said Eileen O’Connor, spokesperson for the Rockefeller Foundation, who has worked with various companies and government leaders to accelerate tests. “Unless you have the data, you don’t know where the disease is going. “

Administration officials said the states were being asked to detail their needs and capabilities and that the $ 11 billion in aid would be distributed to meet those needs. A map posted in the Rose Garden suggested that two hard-hit states – New York and New Jersey – would each get the highest level of spending, $ 500 million. Other states with high levels of infection, including Michigan, Florida, Illinois and California, are expected to receive between $ 300 million and $ 500 million each.

The United States had completed nearly 9 million coronavirus tests on Sunday, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Although huge, this figure represents only 2.74% of the American population and does not give a complete representation of the scope of the virus in American society.

There are much higher levels of testing per capita in other parts of the world. In little Iceland, the figure is extraordinary at 15.4%, but that equates to around 54,000 tests on a population of 352,000 people.

However, the large industrialized economies with large outbreaks also withstood the tests better than the United States: Italy carried out tests equivalent to 4.31% of its population and Germany to 3.35%. The United States is also still behind its northern neighbor, Canada, where its 1.09 million tests are equivalent to 2.95% of the county’s population.

As Trump seeks to increase testing, the United States remains by far the hotspot for coronavirus around the world. There are now 1.34 million confirmed cases, more than the sum of the cases in the following six countries – Spain, United Kingdom, Russia, Italy, France and Germany. The deaths in the United States exceeded 80,000 on Monday.

Trump said earlier Monday that “coronavirus numbers” are falling in almost every country – a statement that oversimplifies trends in the daily number of cases and deaths.

“The numbers are much lower than they were two weeks ago,” Trump said on Monday. “The numbers are going down very substantially, and this weekend has been one of the lowest we have ever seen. The numbers are falling very quickly – across the country, by the way. “

Although the rate of new daily infections in the United States has decreased from its peak in mid-April, the total number of cases per day in several states continues to increase. Among them: Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Kansas and Maryland.

And while there has been a significant slowdown in new cases in New York – the state hardest hit by the virus – other states have increased their share, now maintaining daily totals of new cases nationwide in a slow decline. On March 30, 20,741 new cases were reported in the country, including about 7,000 in New York. On Sunday, 21,171 new cases were identified and 2,273 in New York.

The administration’s response to the tests came a day before a Senate panel considered the federal government’s response to the pandemic. Federal health experts have to testify remotely at the hearing, in part because of exposure to people who test positive.

Covid Tracking Project data detail how the country has slowly increased its daily tests over time. Since the beginning of May, the United States has reported more than 250,000 tests most of the time. On Monday, the country hit a record of nearly 395,000 reported tests.

These numbers still fall far short of the volume that many public health experts say will be essential before schools and businesses can reopen and before Americans can reassemble, go to work and travel safely again.

At the end of last week, public health researchers from the Global Health Institute at Harvard University released new estimates arguing that the United States must perform at least 900,000 tests per day by May 15 to better understand the epidemic. Other researchers have predicted that the nation would need several million tests a day to control the spread of the virus.

Harvard results indicate that fewer than a dozen states are testing enough to stay one step ahead of the virus. Most of the others, the researchers wrote, do not test at a level that will allow them to adequately track people who fall ill and those with whom they may have been in contact.

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo (D) reiterated on Monday how extensive testing would be one of the key measures used by the state, as it weighs on the speed with which to reopen schools and businesses and resume a normal life.

Cuomo detailed the thresholds officials are constantly monitoring, including hospital capacity and available beds in intensive care units, before moving forward. The list included monthly tests on 30 residents per 1,000 – or 3% – of the state’s population, as well as maintaining a certain amount of contact tracers at all times.

“You don’t know what the virus is doing unless you test it,” said Cuomo, adding that New York has done more global testing than any other state.

In his editorial, the expected Democratic presidential candidate also aimed at Trump not to make the tests more widely available to the general public, while the president and his staff receive daily tests.

“If Trump and his team understand how critical the tests are for their safety – and they seem to do so, given their own behavior – why are they insisting that it is not necessary for the American people? Asked Biden.

There is now intense attention to what is being done to contain the virus in the west wing, where staff members were asked on Monday to start wearing masks or face covers at work. The directive does not apply to Trump, who was not wearing it when speaking to reporters on Monday.

While some senior officials in the government response to coronaviruses have started two weeks of self-quarantine due to possible exposure, others, including Pence, say they plan to continue coming to work.

According to a Monmouth University poll released on Monday, fewer Americans are worried that a month ago someone in their family was seriously ill from coronavirus.

Poll finds 42% of Americans are very concerned that someone in their family is seriously ill, up from 50% last month. Another 28% are somewhat worried, compared to 33% last month.

In the last survey, 30% are not too worried or not at all concerned, compared to 16% a month ago.

An ABC News-Ipsos poll released on Friday showed similar declines. In this survey, 77% said they were very or somewhat concerned that they or someone they know would be infected with the coronavirus, compared to 86% a month earlier. Twenty-three percent said they weren’t so worried or not worried at all, up from 14% a month earlier.

A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll released last week found a more stable concern. In this survey, 63% of Americans said they were very or somewhat worried about getting seriously ill, while 36% said they were not too worried or not at all worried.

The percentage of Americans who say they avoided small gatherings has dropped in the past month – but far more among Republicans than Democrats, according to results from the Gallup poll released Monday.

The new survey found that 86% of Democrats say they avoided small gatherings, a modest drop from a peak of 90% in late March.

In comparison, 60% of Republicans in the new survey say they avoided small gatherings, down from a high of 76% in late March.

The current 26-point gap between Democrats and Republicans is the largest since Gallup began asking the question in mid-March.

In China, new cases of coronavirus have been reported – including in the epicenter of origin of Wuhan – despite strict controls on entry and circulation in the country.

The city of Shulan in Jilin Province, near the borders with Russia and China, said it was in “war mode” after linking 15 new cases to a super broadcaster. All public places have been closed and all public transport suspended, residents are invited to stay at home while the epidemic is contained.

Two weeks after Spanish children were first allowed to venture outside to ease the nationwide lockdown in effect since March 15, the Spanish Ministry of Health said on Monday that the outings did not cause a significant change in the spread of the virus.

“We have not seen a substantial increase,” said Fernando Simón, who heads the coordination of emergency health interventions in Spain.

With another record day-long increase in confirmed cases, Russia has now surpassed Italy and the United Kingdom for the third-highest number of coronaviruses in the world.

Russia announced 11,600 new cases on Monday, bringing the country’s total to more than 221,000. The number of new cases per day has continued to increase despite six weeks of strict stay-at-home orders that even ban exercise outdoors.

Officials attributed the increase in cases to more tests – the consumer health watchdog in Russia said more than 5 million tests had been done – and almost half of new diagnoses are considered asymptomatic .

Chris Mooney, Lateshia Beachum, Marisa Iati, Anna Fifield, Pamela Rolfe and Isabelle Khurshudyan contributed to this report.

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