The evidence mounts that Gov. Asa Hutchinson was WAY off base Monday in claiming Arkansas compared favorably with the rest of the U.S. in testing per capita for coronavirus.

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Items:

  1. The map above, posted on Twitter by Obama-era Medicaid boss Andy Slavitt, shows Arkansas below just about everybody except, barely, Missouri.
  2. The print edition of the New York Times today has an article about how testing needs to triple before the U.S. can reopen. It charts a 7-day rolling average of state testing efforts. It shows Arkansas with a 35-a-day count, better than the map Slavitt posted. It’s about in the middle of the states. But it’s also well short of researchers’ recommendation of 152 tests a day to get a handle on the pandemic.
  3. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, in front-page reporting today by Jeannie Roberts and Kat Stromquist, reported that Arkansas trailed all but Texas among neighboring states in testing. The state is trying, no doubt. But it lacks materials and thus generally won’t test non-symptomatic people.

I was surprised, given the page-one treatment of the low standing of Arkansas in testing, that the Democrat-Gazette’s coverage today didn’t mention Gov.  Hutchinson’s news conference claim that Arkansas “is doing very well” in comparison to the rest of the country. He displayed a map — he said it was provided by the White House — that showed Arkansas was leading in testing per 100,000. It was off by a factor of 10 because of an arithmetic error. We reported this yesterday and the evasive answer by the governor’s office on whether it stood by the map and the governor’s representation. Perhaps somebody might ask further about that today at the daily news briefing.

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Here’s the governor with his map yesterday, marked with my question marks.

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PS: In defense of a contrary view. Another devoted numbers cruncher makes the case that, whatever the testing rate, Arkansas has one of the lowest positive test rates and lowest death rates in the country, at least so far as available numbers indicate. Isn’t that more important, he asks? If true, yes. But viruses do cross borders.

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