The United States far exceeds any country in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths.
The latest data finds that the U.S. has more than 1.5 million confirmed cases of the virus and over 90,000 deaths. Russia, which has the second-highest number of cases in the world, has more than 1 million fewer confirmed cases than the U.S.
That number has led many to question how the virus spread so quickly throughout the country despite stay-at-home orders aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.
A recent study from Columbia University found that if Americans had enacted social distancing measures two weeks earlier than most did, the transmission of the virus could have been slowed significantly and there could have been 36,000 fewer deaths.
Others have noted that a lack of reported widespread testing at the outset of the virus allowed it to spread rapidly throughout the country.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has suggested that the U.S. is leading the world in coronavirus cases because of increased testing.
Speaking at a medical equipment distribution center on May 14, Trump said, “We have more cases than anybody in the world, but why? Because we do more testing.”
He continued, “When you test, you have a case. When you test, you find something is wrong with people. If we didn’t do any testing, we would have very few cases. They don’t want to write that. It’s common sense. We test much more.”
And on May 19, Trump addressed the number of cases with similar remarks, “By the way, you know, when you say that we lead in cases, that’s because we have more testing than anybody else.”
“So, when we have a lot of cases I don’t look at that as a bad thing. I look at that, in a certain respect, as being a good thing because it means our testing is much better,” he added.
He also said he views it as a “badge of honor” and a “great tribute to the testing.”
President Trump: "So, when we have a lot of cases I don't look at that as a bad thing. I look at that, in a certain respect, as being a good thing because it means our testing is much better…I view it as a badge of honor. Really it's a badge of honor…" pic.twitter.com/fUJJ2gQ2Ry— CSPAN (@cspan) May 19, 2020
While Trump has said that the U.S. has the “best testing in the world,” the country’s testing capacity has been criticized by many who noted that at the beginning of the outbreak the country had limited testing.
Data from the COVID Tracking Project finds that the U.S. is conducting between 300,000 and 400,000 tests per day — a significant increase from early-March.
That number is still too low to safely reopen, according to health experts who say the country needs to test millions of people per day.
The U.S. still lags behind countries in terms of testing per capita. According to Our World in Data, Denmark is testing roughly 70 people per 100,000. Italy is testing about 52 people per 100,000. And the U.S. is testing about 37 people per 100,000.
As the U.S. lags in testing per capita, The Washington Post is reporting that states are experiencing a new problem: too many tests and too few people who want to be tested.
Tom Hudachko, a spokesman for Utah’s Health Department, suggested, “It could be simply that people don’t want to be tested. It could be that people feel like they don’t need to be tested.
“It could be that people are so mildly symptomatic that they’re just not concerned that having a positive lab result would actually change their course in any meaningful way,” he added.
Experts say apparent the lack of Americans’ desire to be tested could be for a variety of reasons, including the lingering worry about there not being enough tests.