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Fact Checking Corona Virus Claims

Scientist looking at test sample
A scientist in the DCCS lab testing COVID-19. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM)

Craig Carper: From the VPM news desk in Richmond I'm Craig Carper. And this is PolitiFact Virginia. I'm joined now in studio by our PolitiFact editor Warren Fiske. Hi, Warren. 

Warren Fiske: Hey Craig

Carper: Warren the coronavirus is on everyone's mind. More than 110,000 cases have been diagnosed worldwide and more than 3800 deaths. People are changing their everyday habits and the world economy has been rocked. More than 200 cases have been diagnosed in the US, including the first few in Virginia. Warren, PolitiFact has looked at a number of claims about the virus from politicians and opinion makers. Can you give us a rundown? 

Fiske: Sure, Craig. Let's start with a statement by President Trump at a March 4 briefing, "The Obama administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we're doing and we undid that decision days ago so that the testing can take place in a much more accurate and rapid fashion."

Fiske: The White House has been criticized for a slow rollout of the coronavirus Iris test kits, and the President's passed on some of the blame to his predecessor. The White House later explained that Trump was referring in this case, to a February food and drug administration policy. That is the rules on Coronavirus tests developed in labs. The FDA often oversees diagnostic kits that are manufactured in laboratories and shipped across state lines, but it usually doesn't for diagnostic tests, developed by a lab and used at the same location such as in a hospital as a criticism of the coronavirus kits mounted. The FDA recently announced it would allow laboratories to create and use their own test kits for the disease and the administration Hill. This is a big deal. But as we just said, the FDA was already doing this under a 2004 policy by President George W. Bush. And although Obama questioned the policy when he was in the White House, he never changed it. So Trump really didn't override anything here, including an Obama policy. He just kept the policy intact. And PolitiFact rated the President's statement False. 

Carper: Okay. Here's one by Fox Business host Lou Dobbs, a big supporter of the president saying the US is lagging behind other countries in testing for the coronavirus "We're actually screening fewer people because we don't have appropriate tests"

Fiske: Doug's got his figures from the world of meter, which is a tool that shows real time numbers based on data from what it calls official sources. It shows that at least eight countries have given more tests relative to the size of their populations than the US as those countries are South Korea, Italy, Australia, the UK, Finland, Vietnam and Turkey. The problem is that these figures are one week old and we couldn't find any other organization that's got updated figures, including the World Health Organization, but dubs statement does line up with analysis from many health experts, as well as a lot of reporting we've seen the problem goes back to the US is troubled rollout of the test kits and PolitiFact is rated this statement. Mostly True. 

Carper: Okay, here's one more. It's a Facebook post saying the blood test for Coronavirus costs $3200. 

Fiske: Yeah, that one's been circulating and Facebook flagged it for PolitiFact. Here's the deal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is distributing the test kits isn't charging for the coronavirus. But that doesn't mean everything's on the house. While the test may be free, you still might face a doctor or emergency room fees and charges for other related tests. All told, PolitiFact rated the $3200 claim Mostly False. 

Carper: All right, thanks to our PolitiFact editor Warren Fiske, Warren, we will catch up again next week. 

Fiske: Look forward to it Craig. 

Carper: For more on this and other fact checks, you can go to vpm.org/PolitiFact