Trump Hails U.S. Coronavirus Testing as Infections Cross a Million

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
President Donald Trump speaks about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for small businesses adversely affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin practices social distancing during an event in the East Room at the White House in Washington, Tuesday. (Reuters/Carlos Barria)

The United States has reported more than a million coronavirus infections only because of its testing, President Donald Trump said on Wednesday, hailing the effort as being “much better than any other country in the world.”

The comments came amid warnings from state public health officials that shortages of trained workers and materials have limited testing capacity.

“The only reason the U.S. has reported one million cases of coronavirus is that our testing is sooo much better than any other country in the world,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

“Other countries are way behind us in testing, and therefore show far fewer cases.”

A Reuters tally shows the United States has by far the world’s largest number of confirmed cases at more than a million, with total deaths topping 58,000 by late Tuesday.

Cases exceeded 3.1 million worldwide, with more than 216,000 deaths.

The rise pressures efforts to boost testing capacity and health officials flagged the challenge of getting tests to those who need them most.

“One of the problems has been the tests getting to the people who need them,” U.S. infectious diseases expert and health official Anthony Fauci told CNN in an interview on Tuesday.

Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said every American in need of a virus test should be able to get one by the end of May or the beginning of June.

“Everyone who needs a test, according to the way we’re approaching the identification, isolation, contact tracing – keeping the country safe and healthy, hopefully, we should see that as we get toward the end of May, the beginning of June,” Fauci said.

The virus has taken an unprecedented toll on the U.S. economy, with a likely contraction in the first quarter at its sharpest pace since the Great Recession, as stringent measures to slow the virus spread almost shut down the nation, ending the longest expansion in its history.

The number of Americans seeking jobless benefits over the past five weeks has soared to 26.5 million, or nearly one in six U.S. workers, and the Trump administration has forecast an April unemployment rate exceeding 16%.