Teamsters Local 848 truck driver Carlos Gonzalez sits to be tested for COVID-19 at a testing site provided by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in Long Beach, California, US, on July 16, 2020. (Photo: Agencies)
The per-capita daily case rate in the US has fallen fourfold in the past two weeks, but the reality might not be so rosy, according to a report by Time magazine.
That's because during this period testing for COVID-19 in the country has also fallen at practically the same rate.
A little more than two weeks ago, around 820,000 new tests were being administered per day according to the COVID Tracking Project. By Aug 12, however, that had dropped to about 710,000.
As US President Donald Trump gears up for this year's election cycle, he's been keen to minimize the impact of the coronavirus pandemic under his watch, largely by latching on to any data or talking point that suggests the virus has been overblown by those he sees as his political enemies.
Time summed it up satirically: "His favorite: the only reason US case numbers are up is because the country is testing more."
The article pointed out what would be needed to prove that is a trend showing as the US tests more people, the share of positive tests falls.
"And yet, this has not been the reality at all," the report asserted. "In fact, over the past two months, when testing rates increased, so did positive-result rates. And when testing rates fell…so did positive-result rates."
It's likely too soon to tell for certain whether the US is really stabilizing, as the surface numbers appear to suggest.
The article urges caution, as declaring victory now, when many people simply can't get tested or have to wait around two weeks to get results, is like "turning off the lights and claiming you eradicated a cockroach infestation".