Post jokes Trump would be fine if he didn’t get COVID test

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Donald Trump staged a dramatic return to the White House Monday night after leaving the military hospital where he has been receiving an unprecedented level of care for COVID-19. Trump entered the White House without wearing a protective mask. (Oct. 5)

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The claim: Trump would be fine if he hadn’t taken a COVID-19 test

After President Donald Trump announced he’d become one of the more than 7 million Americans diagnosed with COVID-19, critics are remembering how he responded to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Trump’s mistake was getting tested,” Bob Cesca posted on Facebook on Oct. 2. “If he hadn’t been tested, he’d be fine now.”

Facebook users responded to Cesca’s sarcasm and implied reference to Trump’s past commentary with roughly 100 comments, more than 3,000 shares and 1,100 likes and reactions.

In 2020, misinformation is abundant and sarcasm is easily misunderstood so USA TODAY took a look at the claim to get ahead of any confusion.

USA TODAY has contacted Cesca for comment.

Fact check: Satirical post falsely claims COVID-19 is no worse than the flu and affects virtually no one

Cesca’s liberal politics suggest the post was satirical

Cesca is a weekly contributor to left-leaning websites Salon and The Banter and hosts his own liberal political podcast “The Bob Cesca Show.”

He has repeatedly expressed his disapproval of Trump’s administration, pandemic response and handling of his own COVID-19 diagnosis on Twitter.

Given Cesca’s very public politics, it’s likely the post was intended to be satirical.

Fact check: Video claiming to show bikers praying for Trump at Walter Reed is from a South Africa protest

Claim that increased testing leads to a spike in COVID-19 cases previously debunked

In July, USA TODAY debunked the claim that increased COVID-19 testing leads to increased infection rates after Trump spent months asserting as much.

The president has repeatedly sought to explain increased infection rates across the country this summer as caused by increased testing. 

During a Aug. 3 interview with Axios on HBO, Trump repeatedly asserted that the number of reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. was because of increased testing.

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President Trump argued in an interview that the US has better coronavirus death numbers than other countries if counted as a percentage of cases, not the total population. The interview was conducted by Axios, Courtesy HBO. (Aug. 4)

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“You know there are those that say you can test too much,” said Trump.

USA TODAY concluded that the virus’ spread can be measured by the number of cases and by the testing positivity rate. Although increased testing will increase the number of confirmed, reported cases, it will not increase the positivity rate. The increased positivity rate indicates that the virus is spreading in the U.S.

Cesca seems to be referencing Trump espousing this debunked claim to mock the president once he was diagnosed with COVID-19.

Fact check: Trump could have been exposed to COVID-19 before Sept. 29 presidential debate

Our rating: Satire

A Facebook post that claims Trump would not have not fallen ill with COVID-19 if he hadn’t been tested is sarcastically referencing the debunked claim that increased testing causes increased cases of coronavirus infection. The satirical post came from a liberal political contributor who has publicly criticized Trump’s handling of the pandemic. We rate this claim SATIRE.

Our fact-check sources:

  • USA TODAY, Oct. 2, “Trump, Melania test positive for coronavirus, president vows to begin quarantine ‘immediately'”
  • Bob Cesca, Oct. 2, Facebook post
  • BobCesca.com, “What about Bob?”
  • Bob Cesca, Sept. 30, tweet
  • Bob Cesca, Oct. 1, tweet
  • Bob Cesca, Oct. 2, Facebook post
  • USA TODAY, July. 28, “Fact check: Expanded COVID-19 testing shows more cases, doesn’t cause high positivity rate”
  • AXIOS, Aug. 4, “Watch the full ‘Axios on HBO’ interview with President Trump”
  • USA TODAY, Aug. 4, “‘It is what it is,’ Trump says of rising coronavirus death toll as he insists outbreak is ‘under control'”

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Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

This fact check is available at IFCN’s 2020 US Elections FactChat #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here, for more.

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