President Donald Trump provided an update to the White House’s response to the coronavirus pandemic at a news conference on Wednesday.
While coronavirus deaths are on the rise, cases appear to be leveling off. On Tuesday, there were 1,399 coronavirus-related deaths reported, according to Johns Hopkins University figures.
While the positivity rate has dropped off slightly in recent days (from 8.6% to 8.3%), some public health experts are baffled by a drop in testing. Data indicates that fewer Americans are being tested for the virus. Part of the reason could be due to delays in getting results.
Johns Hopkins University data indicates that 28 states saw a decline in testing. Among the states seeing declines in testing are Florida, Mississippi, Georgia and Arkansas, which are seeing higher positivity rates compared to the rest of the US. Only eight states have ramped up testing, according to the data.
Despite the drop in testing, the White House has said that the US has “created the best COVID-19 testing system in the world.”
“The United States also has far and away the most robust testing capacity in the world,” Trump said on Tuesday. “Testing has been incredible, what we’ve been able to do. Nobody is even close. Since March 12th, we’ve increased daily testing by 32,000 percent. How’s that?”
While public health experts suggest that more tests would lead to a lower positivity rate, America’s positivity rate remains much higher than a number of developed nations, including Canada, Spain, Germany and Italy. The US positivity rate remains lower than a handful of countries, including, Mexico, India and Iran. Data from another hard-hit nation, Brazil, is not widely available.
Ashish K. Jha, director of Harvard's Global Health Institute, says the US is on the wrong path with testing.
"It's a problem. And widespread one," Jha tweeted. "But falling tests can be OK if states have high testing rates, few cases, low positivity rate. But testing is falling in some of the hardest hit states."