As coronavirus case numbers rise in Michigan and across the country, President Donald Trump and many of his supporters are shrugging it off as a result of increase in testing.
“Media is doing everything possible to create fear prior to November 3rd,” Trump said Saturday morning on Twitter. “The Cases are up because TESTING is way up, by far the most, and best, in the world. Mortality rate is DOWN 85% plus!”
Trump’s tweet came the same day that Michigan reported 3,338 new cases, blowing past the previous one-day record of 2,015 cases reported on Friday, Oct. 16.
Health experts point to a number of metrics that contradict Trump’s contention. In fact, deaths, hospitalizations and the testing positivity rate are all on the rise, indicating that increase in cases reflects a genuine increase on coronavirus transmission.
“Although testing rates continue to increase, testing alone does not account for the rise we are seeing in COVID-19 cases in Michigan,” said Lynn Sutfin, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. "We are experiencing dramatic increases in all regions of the state with more cases among younger Michiganders that we saw in the spring. Outbreaks are occurring in workplaces, schools and universities and due to social gatherings.”
- The average number of daily tests is up 30% in October compared to September, but the number of new cases is up 87%.
- 'The percent testing positive has increased from 3.2% in September to 4.4% in October. In the past week, the positivity rate was 5.5%.
- Hospitalizations have increased. On Sept. 26, Michigan had 503 adults hospitalized with confirmed or suspected coronavirus. On Monday, Oct. 26, it was 1,479.
- Deaths are rising. There have been 449 deaths in the first 26 days of October compared to 289 for all of September.
It’s true that current case numbers aren’t comparable to last March and April because of the vast differences in testing. But looking at more recent numbers is a different story, experts say.
The idea that the current spike is all about testing is “an absurd notion,” said Joel Strasz, health officer with Bay County Health Department.
“There’s a demand for more testing, which comes from more people being ill with symptoms and more people being exposed to someone with coronavirus. The demand isn’t going up just because there are more tests available,” he said. “My advice is to trust public health experts. This is a public health problem, not a political problem.”
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