At least 323 people in the United States have now died from the coronavirus pandemic, according to a CNN report, with the total number of cases nearing 27,000 by the early hours of Sunday morning — a total that makes the U.S. the world’s third-most affected country, trailing only China and Italy.
But according to reporting by Alexis C. Madrigal and Robinson Meyer of The Atlantic magazine, the massive crisis that the pandemic has created in the U.S. “could have been avoided — if only we had started testing for the virus sooner.”
In fact, the official number of approximately 27,000 cases appears to be significantly lower than the actual number due to the slow and largely botched rollout of testing in the U.S., according to the Atlantic report. According to virologist Trevor Bedford, cited by the magazine, the coronavirus started spreading in the U.S. sometime in late January — and by now has likely infected about 87,000 people.
The truth, according to The Atlantic, is that “we don’t know how many Americans are infected with the coronavirus.”
While there are multiple reasons for the slow rollout of coronavirus testing, according to one reporter who has covered the Donald Trump administration response to the outbreak, it was Trump himself who “made clear” that he did not want a widespread testing program because he feared that more testing would uncover more cases. Higher coronavirus test numbers would reportedly damage his reelection chances in the fall.