“We are way ahead on testing. We are the best in the world on testing. We’ve tested much more than anybody else, times two — or every country combined. We’ve tested more than every country combined.” -- Trump, remarks at the White House, April 28, 2020The good news this morning is that Hong Kong and South Korea, two places among the hardest hit by the virus, are reporting zero new COVID-19 cases. This the result social distancing, mask wearing and of quick conducted widespread testing and contact tracing of new infections to halt the virus's spread.
Contrast that with the U.S. where coronavirus infections have soared past the million mark with more than 60,000 reported deaths. The U.S. has far more COVID-19 cases than any other country. Spain, which has around 50 million people compared with some 332 million in the U.S., has 232,128 cases. Italy, which has a population of around 62 million people, has 201,505 cases. China, where the outbreak began, is reporting fewer than 84,000 cases. Those numbers are as of Tuesday afternoon.
The World Health Organization warned the world of the virus in early January and declared a public emergency on January 30th. On that day, Trump said, "we think we have it very well under control". All through January, February, and March, Trump minimized the threat. His tweet on March 9th likened the virus to the common flu. Two days later, the WHO declared a global pandemic. It wasn't until March 13th that DT declared a national emergency. That was six weeks after the WHO had declared a public emergency.
I say reported cases because of the likelihood that there may be severe undercounting. For example, the number of COVID-19 cases in L.A. County may be as much 50 times greater than the official count, according to preliminary results from a new study by the University of Southern California.
The good news is that if the USC study is accurate and in reality we’re identifying only one in 50 infections, that would make COVID-19 a lot less deadly than previously believed, while also making it a lot more contagious (and asymptomatic “silent carriers” a lot more widespread). That would also call for a paradigm shift in how to combat the virus.
The problem of course is that data collection, like testing itself, has become a political tool rather than a scientific one. Trump is now claiming that we have more than adequate testing and that the U.S. will soon be running "5 million" tests per day and that would explaim the discovery of a million cases.
But as WaPo's Glenn Kessler points out,
Trump is trying to make lemonade out of lemons. Many countries with significant case loads are testing, often at greater rates than the United States. The United States has such a huge case load because it failed to ramp up testing at the speed of other countries, so the virus spread silently before Trump finally took the problem seriously and advocated mitigation and social distancing efforts.
Having 1 million cases of covid-19 is nothing to brag about, but Trump still finds a way.Those of us educators, who've had to deal with decades of school reform, can easily understand this phenomena. We are all too familiar with the way testing and data collection have been misused to promote political ambitions while tracking and sorting children and punishing teachers and schools.