You may only be allowed 280 characters, but it is often mind-blowing how much incorrect information a person can fit into one tweet.
Take the president of the United States for example, who on Thursday managed to completely misunderstand numbers, the nature of disease and how the media works all in one remarkable post on Twitter.
There’s a lot going on here so let’s break it down.
‘Cases would be half’
Let’s set aside the seemingly random capitalisation of “cases” and concentrate on what he’s actually suggesting here.
First, some context.
More than 132,000 Americans have died of the disease, already the highest number in the world and all the signs are pointing to the situation rapidly deteriorating in the very near future.
According to a Reuters analysis, coronavirus cases have been on the rise in 42 of the 50 states over the past two weeks.
On Tuesday, the number of confirmed US cases crossed the 3 million mark, roughly equivalent to 1% of the country’s population and about 25% of all known infections worldwide.
And the number of new fatalities is ticking upwards as the lag time between when a person catches the disease and dies from it passes.
Trump is right to say that if they did half the testing they would have half the number of confirmed cases, but the number of infected people in the US would be the same.
Arguably, it would get much higher much quicker as without accurate data to inform the response, authorities won’t be able to react as they need to.
‘For the 1/100th time’
We can reasonably assume the president was trying to say “for the hundredth time” as he emphasised yet again his completely inaccurate view on coronavirus testing (see below).
But Trump decided to express this a a fraction instead. Or maybe he’s saying this is the first of 100 tweets on the matter. Who knows.
This is an easy one – it’s not reported because it’s wrong.
On Monday the US’s top health official Anthony Fauci said the current state of the Covid-19 outbreak in the United States “is really not good” and a “serious situation that we have to address immediately”.
The US is still “knee-deep” in the first wave of the illnesses, having never gotten the case number as low as planned, Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said during a live internet interview with National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins.
“It’s a serious situation that we have to address immediately,” Fauci said.