President Donald Trump touted a new coronavirus test that produces results in minutes as opposed to days and announced Monday that more than 1 million Americans have been tested for the disease.

“The numbers have been incredible on testing,” Trump said. “In the days ahead we’re going to go even faster on testing.”

USA Today. I saw similar quotes from Trump on the CNN web site.

This doesn't seem possible given that:

At a press briefing [on March 24th], Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House's coronavirus response coordinator, told reporters, "We now have 370,000 tests that have been done. The majority of those -- over 220,000 in the last eight days, which, those of you who have been tracking the South Korea numbers, put us equivalent to what they did in eight weeks that we did in eight days." CNN

220,000 in 8 days would be 27,500 per day. Even if you account for "ramping up" to maybe 50,000 per day, that would bring the total to just 370,000 + 6 * 50,000 = 670,000.

  • 6
    Not all US states are reporting negative tests, so it's hard to know what the actual totals are. There's also ambiguity between "tests" and "people" when the same person is tested more than once. Mar 30, 2020 at 23:25
  • 1
    Such a ramp-up in a country as large as the USA, that has been waiting for this, does not seem implausible at all
    – Mike Wise
    Mar 31, 2020 at 8:32
  • 1
    A significant ram-up in tests would explain a super-exponential growth or an unexpectedly fast exponential growtsh of cases (though not in deaths or recoverds). Is it plausible that one out of six tested persons is positive? Mar 31, 2020 at 14:01
  • 13
    Dear HNQ visitors: Welcome to Skeptics! However, your political opinions are not welcome here.
    – Oddthinking
    Mar 31, 2020 at 17:40
  • One thing to consider is how recent the jump in testing numbers is.
    – Joe W
    Apr 1, 2020 at 2:38

1 Answer 1


According to The COVID Tracking Project update 3/30/2020 20:14 Eastern Daylight Time

There were 945,793 tested. 160,530 positive, 785,263 negative.

(Some of the source data is last updated 3/29 but most is from 3/30. The state-by-state notes say that Delaware hasn't released negative results since 3/13 and in some cases, like Utah, the negative results are delayed about 72 hours relative to the positive results. Says Indiana data is incomplete because negative tests by private labs are not included.)

  • 36
    Small question - does the "945k tested" mean "945k people tested" or "945k tests administered"? I would have thought some people, e.g. health workers, would need multiple tests over time, so number of tests and number of people would differ. However, I would also expect that effect to be relatively small e.g. maybe 100k of the tests are repeats. In which case there is some wriggle room for the claim in the question to be "mostly true" - if rounded up and kept vague whether it is counting people or tests. Scientifically inaccurate, but ok-ish for a political statement if it's only out by 10% Mar 31, 2020 at 7:41
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    @NeilSlater In order to classify as recovered one needs to have two negative tests (plus one to classify as infected in the first place). The difference may be much higher. Mar 31, 2020 at 8:48
  • 6
    @NeilSlater It's people or "cases" not individual samples. For example, other sources like worldometer give the same number of positive cases as the source in the answer worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us But it excludes pending tests. So tests have been administered to more than the 945,793, but results have been obtained and reported for 945,793 people.
    – DavePhD
    Mar 31, 2020 at 10:41
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    @NeilSlater If you look at the presidents's full statement, it is "Over 1 million Americans have now been tested ...And I think what I’d like to do is ask Secretary Azar, who’s done a fantastic job, to come up and just say a few words about the fact that we reached substantially now more than 1 million tests" and then he asks Azar to speak and give details and Azar clarifies "more than 1 million samples tested". whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/…
    – DavePhD
    Mar 31, 2020 at 11:17
  • 5
    Please correct your answer. There have been about a million tests, not a million people tested. And the difference is large, because standard protocol is to test more than once to confirm in many cases.
    – Yakk
    Apr 1, 2020 at 15:58

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