COVID Testing Leader Contradicts Trump, Says Rise in Cases Is ‘Real’ — Not from Increased Testing

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ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty A person in Los Angeles is tested for COVID-19

The Trump administration’s head of COVID-19 testing said that the record-breaking numbers of new infections in the U.S. are “real,” and not because of an increase in testing, counter to what President Donald Trump has claimed.

Testing czar Admiral Brett Giroir, also an assistant secretary of Health and Human Services who was appointed to his position by Trump, confirmed that U.S. COVID-19 cases are rising.

“Testing may be identifying some more cases, I think that's clearly true, but what we're seeing is a real increase in the numbers,” he told the Washington Post.

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Giroir pointed out that not only are cases going up — the country saw 74,410 new infections on Tuesday and a record-breaking 85,085 on Friday — but hospitalizations for the virus are as well.

Alex Edelman-Pool/Getty Brett Giroir

“Compared to the post-Memorial Day surge, even though testing is up, this is a real increase in cases,” he said. “We know that not only because the case numbers are up and we can calculate that, but we know that hospitalizations are going up.”

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Giroir’s statements are in opposition to Trump’s claims that the rise in cases is due to an increase in testing, and that the focus on COVID-19 is a “fake news media conspiracy.”

“Cases up because we TEST, TEST, TEST,” Trump tweeted on Monday. “A Fake News Media Conspiracy. Many young people who heal very fast. 99.9%. Corrupt Media conspiracy at all time high. On November 4th., topic will totally change. VOTE!”

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The mortality rate for young adults is higher than Trump claims — according to a study of 3,222 young adult patients published in JAMA Internal Medicine in September, about 2.7 percent of those hospitalized with COVID-19 died, one in five needed intensive care and one in 10 needed to go on a ventilator. The long-term effects of the virus are also not fully known, and young adults like 27-year-old MLB pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez have developed heart conditions from COVID-19.

Trump has claimed in the last week that the U.S. is “rounding the turn” on the COVID-19 pandemic despite the soaring infections. Giroir, in contrast, said that country is at “another critical point” as hospitals like those in Texas and Wisconsin “are becoming full and being stressed.”

Giroir urged Americans to keep up hygiene practices, wear masks and social distance as the crisis could get worse.

“So, you know, we really have a mixed picture but we are tenuous now,” he said. “We really have to reengage the public health measures that we know work or those hospitalizations can go up substantially.”

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