Today Show blames falling COVID cases in southern US on lack of testing

Coronavirus cases are on the rise is states with stricter measures in place while in the south, where many of the restrictions have been lifted, COVID cases are falling.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

Coronavirus cases are on the rise is states with stricter measures in place while in the south, where many of the restrictions have been lifted, COVID cases are falling, the Today Show reported Thursday morning.

In states like New York, Pennsylvania, and in New England, cases are on the rise despite having stricter measures in place. Whereas in states like Texas and Arkansas, which have opened up states and removed mask mandates, cases are falling.

The Today Show considered possibilities for this current fluctuation including Differences in testing rates among states, COVID fatigue, and young people acting as carriers of the virus.

The show reported at Alabama had dipped in COVID cases a little more than 50 percent in two weeks. The state also comes in last for covid testing, with just 56 tests per 100,000 people. That number is just a tiny fraction of those administered in states like Vermont, with 1,420 tests per 100k, or New York, with 1,084 per 100k, both states with increasing case numbers.

"How much does lack of adequate testing have to do with the numbers were seeing right now?" asked reporter Sam Brock.

"When you don't test, you're blind. And when you're not testing you have a false sense of what the real problem is in your community," said Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Aileen Marty.

Just last year though, outlets were reporting and debunking a comment made by former President Trump about a rise in cases being linked to increased testing, proving the inverse of what was reported Thursday.

"We’re doing so much testing, so much more than any other country,” Trump said in a CBS interview “And to be honest with you, when you do more testing, you find more cases. And then they report our cases are through the roof.”

ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom, analyzed data last summer coming from testing data between Memorial Day and mid-June. They argued that the data showed there was no correlation between testing and increased positive results. States like New York, for example, administered 50 percent more tests by the end of that period, but had 60 percent fewer positive results. Arizona tested 175 percent more, but ended up with 698 percent more positive test results.

The report from the Today Show also credited COVID fatigue in states with stricter lockdown to the increase in cases there. Michigan, just coming out of lockdown, has seen an increase in cases of 104 percent. Meanwhile in Texas, they showed thousands packing into a stadium for a game, crediting most Texans having already come into contact with the virus for why cases aren't rising.

"A lot of individuals in the southern part of the US, especially here in Texas, have already been exposed to the coronavirus. So many individuals already have coronavirus antibodies," said Dr. Neil Gandhi, the Regional Medical Director at Houston Methodist Hospital.

The third theory covered by the report is young people acting as carriers, but themselves not getting the virus, explaining places like Miami Beach, where thousands went for Spring Break, yet case numbers have increased only slightly.

"Those are the least likely to show up for testing. And those younger individuals infect older individuals or more vulnerable individuals, that takes time," said Dr. Marty.

When asked whether medical experts worry if current coronavirus case trends have shown leaders that reopening is a good idea, Dr. Gandhi told Brock that "we worry about if there's a perfect storm brewing."

"If we remember this virus always takes 10 to 14 to 21 days to develop. We might just be seeing the early effects of that right now," he continued.


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