White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany reiterated that spikes in coronavirus cases are a function of increased access to testing, an argument that public health officials have debunked.
“When you lead the world in testing, that means that you identify more cases,” McEnany told reporters Monday.
President Trump has often touted the U.S. capacity for coronavirus testing, attributing recent surges in cases to widespread access to diagnostic tests. He said earlier this month that if access to testing was lower, “we would have very few cases.”
“If you test 40,000,000 people, you are going to have many cases that, without the testing (like other countries), would not show up every night on the Fake Evening News,” Trump said.
However, the White House coronavirus testing czar Adm. Brett Giroir broke with Trump and acknowledged on Sunday’s This Week on ABC that the drastic increase in cases will lead to more hospitalizations and deaths.
“We do expect deaths to go up. If you have more cases, more hospitalizations, we do expect to see that over the next two or three weeks before this turns around,” Giroir said.
Earlier this week, Giroir said that the rate of tests coming back positive is more telling than the number of tests being conducted.
“There is no question that the more testing you get, the more you will uncover, but we do believe this is a real increase in cases because of the percent positivities are going up. So this is real increases in cases,” Giroir told Congress on July 2.
The nationwide test positivity rate has steadily increased since mid-June, with the seven-day moving average increasing from 4.4% on June 9 to 8.2% Thursday, and to 8.8% on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
McEnany also reaffirmed that Trump has a “good working relationship” with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert and most prominent public health voice during the pandemic. Fauci said last week that he has not briefed Trump on the virus in two months, and Trump said that Fauci had “made a lot of mistakes” in his response to the virus.
“To the notion that there’s opposition research and that there’s Fauci versus the president couldn’t be further from the truth,” McEnany told reporters.
As of Monday evening, over 3.3 million coronavirus infections have been confirmed in the United States, and more than 135,500 people have died.
Florida’s Department of Health reported 12,343 new coronavirus cases Monday, boosting the statewide total to 282,435 cases. Monday’s case count is the second-highest single-day total recorded in Florida since the pandemic began, one day after Florida reported 15,300 new cases, the largest single-day increase of any state.
Though Gov. Ron DeSantis has repeatedly said that the drastic increase in new cases is due to improved access to testing, the argument is undercut by the average daily positive test rate — 14.2% last week and 14.5% the week before. Increased hospitalization rates also provide officials with a better picture of the state of the outbreak in Florida. The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, which updates COVID-19 hospitalization rates hourly, reported Monday afternoon that 8,051 people were in the hospital for coronavirus treatment.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that state officials will collect location and contact information from visitors from states that are experiencing the most severe coronavirus outbreaks, such as Florida, Texas, and Arizona, in order to enforce the state’s quarantine mandate.
People arriving in New York will be required to hand in forms detailing where they will be in New York and their contact information or else face “a summons immediately with a $2,000 fine.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered all counties to close indoor operations for most businesses, including restaurants, bars, movie theaters, and museums, as coronavirus cases statewide total to more than 329,000.
“The data suggests not everyone is acting with common sense,” Newsom said during a Monday press conference.
Prior to Newsom’s Monday announcement, he had ordered business closures to the 31 counties on the governor’s office’s “monitoring list.” Closures in those 31 counties will be even more extensive than statewide closures. Gyms, places of worship, personal care services, malls, offices, hair salons, and barbershops will be required to close.
The U.S. budget deficit ballooned to a record-high $846 billion in June as federal spending rose to more than $1.1 trillion while tax revenue remained relatively flat at $241 billion, partly due to the Treasury Department’s extension of the tax deadline. For comparison, the budget deficit in June 2019 was $8.4 billion.