Trump’s Coronavirus Testing Chart Doesn’t Show the Success He Thinks It Does

President Donald Trump at a White House briefing on April 6.Chip Somodevilla/Getty

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During his daily coronavirus task force briefing on April 6, President Trump tried to push back against reports that COVID-19 tests remain hard to get and that the United States is still lagging behind other countries in testing. “It’s going up at a rapid rate,” he said, referring to the bar chart behind him. “Nobody has done more testing.”  

A quick look at the chart suggested that the number of tests being given in the United States has shot up dramatically over the past month—and Trump’s gloss on the numbers implied the same. Yet as cartoonist Ruben Bolling pointed out on his Instagram feed, the chart showed the cumulative number of tests, which obscured whether the number of daily tests is going up rapidly, as Trump had boasted. Bolling helpfully remade the chart to show the less impressive number of tests actually being done day to day:

Ruben Bolling

As you can see in the chart below, the number of daily coronavirus tests has remained relatively small—around 162,000 on April 9, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project. Yet the overall numbers keep rising even when the number of daily tests drops. In the week before Trump displayed his chart, the number of daily tests ranged from around 107,000 to a one-day spike of 229,000. 

Daily vs. total COVID-19 tests in the United States

As of April 6, just 0.6 percent of the US population had gotten a coronavirus test. Exactly a month earlier, Trump had gushed, “Anybody that needs a test, gets a test. They’re there. They have the tests. And the tests are beautiful.” Even a big beautiful bar chart can’t bend the curve of the disappointing reality.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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