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FACT CHECK: Trump's Claims On U.S. Testing And Seoul's Population

President Trump takes questions from reporters during a Coronavirus Task Force press briefing in the Rose Garden of the White House on Monday.
President Trump takes questions from reporters during a Coronavirus Task Force press briefing in the Rose Garden of the White House on Monday.

During his coronavirus task force briefing Monday evening, President Trump repeated his claim that the United States has done "more tests by far than any country in the world."

He was asked by PBS White House Correspondent Yamiche Alcindor: "You've said several times that the United States has ramped up testing. But the United States is still not testing per capita as many people as other countries like South Korea. Why is that and when do you think that that number will be on par with other countries?"

Trump replied, "It's very much on par."

"I know South Korea better than anybody. It's a very tight — do you know how many people are in Seoul?" he asked. "Do you know how big the city of Seoul is?"

"Thirty-eight million people," Trump said,"That's bigger than anything we have. Thirty-eight million people, all tightly wound together."

That's incorrect. Seoul has a population of nearly 10 million. The population of South Korea itself is roughly 51.5 million.

It's unclear where the 38 million number came from, though there was some speculation. That includes a tweet about a potential mix-up between population and elevation:

While the United States has overtaken South Korea in the total number of tests administered, the country has tested far fewer per capita.

The U.S. population is around 327 million — more than six times the population of South Korea.

As of Saturday, the U.S. has performed 894,000 tests, according to Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services.

But despite a ramp-up of testing, the United States still lags behind other countries like South Korea when it comes to testing on a per capita basis.

According to The Washington Post, as of March 28, the United States had performed 2,250 tests per million — two-thirds of what South Korea did three weeks prior.

"We have vast farmlands, we have vast areas where they don't have much of a problem. In some cases, they have no problem whatsoever," Trump said. "We have done more tests. I didn't talk about per capita. We have done more tests by far than any country in the world, by far."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.