Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal published Thursday that he personally thinks testing for the coronavirus is "overrated," arguing that it has led to an increase in confirmed cases in the U.S. that "makes us look bad."

Why it matters: The ability to test and isolate patients who have tested positive for the coronavirus is viewed by health experts as critical to being able to safely reopen the economy.

  • While increased testing can lead to a higher number of confirmed cases, the rates of growth in Arizona, South Carolina, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Florida over the last two weeks are not solely attributable to more testing.

What he's saying: "I personally think testing is overrated, even though I created the greatest testing machine in history," Trump told WSJ.

  • He also claimed, without evidence, that China may have intentionally allowed the virus to spread beyond its borders to damage the U.S. economy: "They’re saying, man, we’re in a mess. The United States is killing us. Don’t forget, my economy during the last year and a half was blowing them away. And the reason is the tariffs."
  • "I don’t think they would do that," he added. "But you never know. But it has had an impact."

On the issue of face masks, which he has rarely worn in public despite the CDC's recommendation to do so, Trump claimed that people fidget with them and it makes them more likely to be infected by the virus.

  • "They put their finger on the mask, and they take them off, and then they start touching their eyes and touching their nose and their mouth. And then they don’t know how they caught it?"

Go deeper: The states where coronavirus is spreading the fastest

Go deeper

Updated Sep 20, 2020 - Health

7 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week

Data: Compiled by Axios; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Seven states set new highs last week for coronavirus infections recorded in a single day, according to the COVID Tracking Project and state health departments. Wisconsin and Nebraska surpassed records set the previous week.

Why it matters: Problem spots are sticking in the Midwest, although the U.S. is moving in the right direction overall after massive infection spikes this summer.

Sep 20, 2020 - Health

Ex-FDA chief: Career scientists won't be "easily cowed" by political vaccine pressure

The career scientists involved in the approval process will not be swayed by politics, former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday.

Why it matters: Gottlieb's comments come amid fears that the Trump administration has politicized the coronavirus response and is seeking rapid approval and distribution of a vaccine.

Updated 17 hours ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced all domestic pandemic restrictions will be lifted in New Zealand from midnight Monday except in Auckland, where they'll be eased late Wednesday.

The big picture: Ardern delayed the country's election until Oct. 17 as authorities work to stamp out a coronavirus cluster in Auckland, after the re-emergence of COVID-19. There have been single-digit or zero domestic cases in NZ's most populous city since the government reintroduced restrictions.