The Trump administration’s testing czar, Brett Giroir, said Tuesday that the country’s increase in coronavirus cases is not just because of more testing but also a surge in the disease across the country.
His comments offer a stark contrast with those of President Trump.
“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,” Giroir, an assistant secretary of Health and Human Services, said at a Washington Post Live event.
“Compared to the post-Memorial Day surge, even though testing is up, this is a real increase in cases,” he added.
“We know that not only because the case numbers are up and we can calculate that, but we know that hospitalizations are going up.”
The rise in hospitalizations is widely used as an indicator to show that the spread of the virus really is worsening in the United States.
Trump however has continued to blame testing for the increase in cases.
“Cases up because we TEST, TEST, TEST,” he tweeted 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!”
Experts have widely said the increase is not just because of more testing.
There are about 43,000 people in the hospital with coronavirus, according to the Covid Tracking Project, up from about 30,000 at the beginning of the month.
The percentage of tests coming back positive is also rising, another indication that the rise in cases is not just because of increased testing.
Giroir said there are “several areas of the country where hospitals are becoming full and being stressed,” but noted that hospitalizations overall are still well below where they were during the July peak.
He offered a warning, though, that the situation can worsen and people need to wash their hands, wear masks, and maintain distance from others. The arrival of colder weather, as people move indoors, is expected to contribute to a spike.
“So you know we really have a mixed picture but we are tenuous now,” he said. “We really have to re-engage the public health measures that we know work or those hospitalizations can go up substantially.”