As the coronavirus continues to spread across the country, the Trump administration’s failure to prepare for a pandemic in the United States has left Americans vulnerable. Coverage makes clear that testing shortages and inadequate guidance from the administration have contributed to the virus’ spread, and now health officials are shifting from a strategy of containment to bracing for widespread impact.
New York Times: ‘It’s Just Everywhere Already’: How Delays In Testing Set Back The U.S. Coronavirus Response. “Even now, after weeks of mounting frustration toward federal agencies over flawed test kits and burdensome rules, states with growing cases such as New York and California are struggling to test widely for the coronavirus. The continued delays have made it impossible for officials to get a true picture of the scale of the growing outbreak, which has now spread to at least 36 states and Washington, D.C.” [New York Times, 3/10/20]
POLITICO: U.S. Coronavirus Testing Threatened By Shortage Of Critical Lab Materials. “A looming shortage in lab materials is threatening to delay coronavirus test results and cause officials to undercount the number of Americans with the virus. The slow pace of coronavirus testing has created a major gap in the U.S. public health response. The latest problem involves an inability to prepare samples for testing, creating uncertainties in how long it will take to get results.“ [POLITICO, 3/10/20]
Bloomberg: Coronavirus Containment Chance Missed, U.S. Aims To Blunt Impact. “In the early stages of an outbreak when the number of cases is small, health officials can focus on tracking down and isolating individual cases. It’s akin to stomping out a few embers that have jumped from a fire. [CDC Director Robert Redfield] said the U.S.’s failure to quickly roll out tests for the virus had impeded the U.S.’s early efforts. Because of flaws with the original CDC tests, it took weeks for state and local labs to get working tests for the virus, hobbling their attempts to identify patients and isolate them.” [Bloomberg, 3/10/20]
NBC News: The U.S. Has Tested More Than 8,500 Specimens For Coronavirus. That Doesn’t Equal 8,500 Patients. “Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has promised millions of tests will be made available throughout the U.S. by the end of this week. But he acknowledged Monday that he did not know how many patients had been tested so far…While it’s not known exactly how many individuals have been tested, the U.S. still lags far behind other nations, which have already run tens of thousands of tests. In South Korea alone, more than 140,000 people have been tested.” [NBC News, 3/10/20]
Yahoo News: Only 6,563 Americans Have Been Tested For The Coronavirus So Far. “Confusion about that exact number persists even at the highest reaches government. Earlier on Tuesday, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said he couldn’t provide the figure. That number stands in stark contrast to the promises made by leading members of the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, who have variously asserted that 75,000 people would be tested by last week’s end and that laboratories across the United States would have the capacity to conduct 1.5 million tests by the beginning of this week.” [Yahoo News, 3/10/20]
Business Insider: One Chart Shows How Many Coronavirus Tests Per Capita Have Been Completed In 8 Countries. The US Is Woefully Behind. ”In the US, test-kit shortages have hampered health authorities’ ability to get a clear sense of how many Americans are infected. Compared with many other countries affected by the coronavirus, in fact, the US has done the fewest COVID-19 tests per capita.” [Business Insider, 3/9/20]
POLITICO: Trump’s Health Secretary Can’t Say How Many Americans Have Been Tested For Coronavirus. ”Public health labs across the country are testing people for the coronavirus, and those labs are required to report their findings to the CDC. But private labs — which Azar said account for the bulk of the tests — don’t have to report the number of tests they conduct or negative results to the CDC, leaving major holes in data key to understanding how many people in the U.S. are being tested for the virus.” [POLITICO, 3/9/20]