‘Cases, Cases, Cases … Cases Are Up Because Testing is Way Up,’ Tweets the President

Covid-19 Cases are increasing faster than is testing, and that’s not “fake news.”

by Ronald Bailey

“CASES, CASES, CASES … Cases are up because TESTING is way up,” tweeted President Donald Trump on Saturday. He was frustrated that the news media were reporting the highest level of diagnosed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began back in February. It’s true, of course, that more testing will reveal more cases, many of them among low-risk people. But parsing the data from the COVID Tracking Project shows that the increase in the count of American COVID-19 cases is not just due to more testing; there is more community spread too.

Max Roser, the proprietor of the invaluable site Our World In Data, responded to the president’s tweet by pointing out that “when more testing means that you are finding more cases then you are *not yet testing enough*.” Roser also explained that “a crucial metric is the positive rate. It is low when a country tests in proportion with the size of its outbreak. The US is a country that never achieved that and doesn’t achieve it now. That’s why it is true there that more testing means that you find more cases.” When a place is doing enough tests, the positive rate falls and becomes very low.

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