Experts caution against reopening economy without mass national testing in place
Amid recent Tampa Bay Times reporting that the state of Florida is “vastly underreporting” the number of COVID-19 tests in backlog, President Trump has still not instituted a national testing program. Florida is not alone in this: states across the country are struggling with testing backlogs. While experts say that mass testing is the only way to safely reopen the country, Trump has repeatedly and dangerously contradicted those experts while denying and downplaying the need for a strong national testing system.
“Donald Trump’s failure to take COVID-19 testing seriously is not only a danger to our health and safety, but also slows down any ability to re-open our economy. His erratic response has made this crisis worse from the beginning and continues to endanger Floridians’ lives,”said Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo.
Trump failed to take testing seriously early in the crisis and has not learned from those mistakes, leaving states to cope on their own
- To date, the United States has tested approximately 2 million people, a small fraction of the population of 330 million.
- South Korea tested 287,000 people eight weeks after its first confirmed coronavirus case. The United States only tested 55,000 people in the same time frame.
- The Trump administration decided not to use the tests adopted by the World Health Organization, allowing coronavirus to spread undetected for several weeks.
- An HHS Office of Inspector General report found many hospitals lacked the supplies necessary to test anyone who was not high risk or whose case was not serious enough to be admitted.
- Trump’s FDA did not change its testing rules until February 29, 2020, leaving independently developed coronavirus tests on hold for many days.
Mass testing is critical to ending social distancing and re-opening U.S. economy
Tampa Bay Times:“Not having the results from the backlog of testing means state officials can’t get a real-time picture of how deeply the disease has penetrated the population and when people might have hope of resuming their lives and getting back to work, said Arthur Caplan, professor of bioethics at New York University Langone Medical Center.” POLITICO: “Labs nationwide are overwhelmed by patient samples flooding in as they continue to face a shortage of critical supplies. A rapid test described by Trump in mid-March as a “game changer” that would soon be available in doctors offices is still hard to come by for many Americans.”
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