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Much of the media castigated President Donald Trump for his remarks that having the most positive coronavirus cases in the country is a “badge of honor” for America.
While many outlets reported the president’s remarks, they did not appear to put them into context, or delve into the deeper meaning of what Trump apparently meant.
What did he say?
On Tuesday, the president made the remarks to reporters during a Cabinet meeting at the White House.
Trump said, “If you’re testing 14 million people, you’re going to find many more cases. Many of these people aren’t very sick, but they still go down as a case. So actually, the number of cases — and we’re also a much bigger country than most — so when we have a lot of cases, I don’t look at that as a bad thing, I look at that in a certain respect as being a good thing, because it means our testing is much better.”
He later added, “So, if we were testing a million people, instead of 14 million people, we would have far fewer cases. … So I view it as a badge of honor. Really, it’s a badge of honor. It’s a great tribute to the testing and all other work that a lot of professionals have done.”
What are people saying about this?
Slate writer Elliot Hannon wrote, “Trump recasting a failure to contain the virus as a success in later counting those afflicted by that failure shows how far we’ve careened from reality, empathy, and accountability. At the highest level of American life, we’re currently floating unmoored.”
Hannon wasn’t the only one taking Trump to task over his innocuous remarks.
Harvard Law’s Lawrence Tribe likened the president’s remarks to “calling a trail of corpses a badge of honor for the police department that let the serial murderer run free for months.”
Author and political analyst Jared Yates Sexton added, “The President of the United States said he considered our massive amount of infections ‘a badge of honor.’ I’d recommend making this into a campaign ad, but the amount of self-incriminating and disgusting things he’s said at this point is just overwhelming.”
On Twitter, Demitri Dawson — congressional staffer for Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Pa.) — spat, “@realDonaldTrump believes that coronavirus numbers are a ‘badge of honor.’ You should not take pride in the death of Americans, especially when faster action could have saved lives.”
How about this perspective
Trump is correct that the more tests that are readily available, then that much more testing can be done on potential COVID-19 patients. This naturally means that if more people are have access to the tests, there will be more positive results than if tests were hard to come by.
Thusly, the more patients who are able to receive testing and diagnosis will help track the disease’s virulent path. Creating a web of possible infections will help educate more Americans about isolation, if necessary.
In short: more tests, more testing. More testing, more diagnosis. More diagnosis, more tracking. More tracking, better containment.