Right now, the United States is only testing approximately 150,000 cases a day. Public Health experts across the board agree that that number is too low. The key to reopening our economy, they say, is to institute a massive testing operation across the country.
Meanwhile, labs do not have access to the test kits and supplies necessary to expand testing capacity and President Trump has chosen to contradict the advice of experts and downplayed the necessity of testing to reopen the economy.
There Is A Massive Shortage Of Testing Because Of The Trump Administration’s Refusal To Adequately Invest In Key Supplies Like Reagents, Swabs, And Test Kits:
- Axios: Diagnostic testing supply shortages threaten coronavirus response
- Axios: “Efforts to ramp up manufacturing and importation of masks, gowns, gloves, face shields and ventilators make headlines almost daily. But reagents, swabs, test kits and RNA extraction kits haven’t received the same amount of coordinated attention.” [Axios, 4/13/20]
- American Clinical Laboratory Association spokesperson: “Across the board, labs do not have predictable, consistent access to the test kits and other supplies necessary for expanded testing capacity.” [Axios, 4/13/20]
- Professor of global health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Ashish Jha: “Surely, given that we have the entire country shut down, I am confident we can produce the swabs… It’s not beyond the capacity of our nation to produce millions of swabs a day.” [Axios, 4/13/20]
But Experts Say It’s Crucial That We Immediately and Massively Increase Testing Capacity:
- Dr. Ashish Jha, Director Of Harvard Global Health Institute: “The single most important tool we’ll need is an extensive testing infrastructure.” [Forbes, Dr. Ashish Jha, 4/8/20]
- Director Of Harvard Global Health Institute Dr. Ashish Jha: “Testing on this scale—about 500,000 people daily—is well within our capacity.” [Forbes, Dr. Ashish Jha, 4/8/20]
- FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn: “Further ramping up testing, both diagnostic as well as the antibody tests, will really be necessary as we move beyond May into the summer months and then into the fall…We need to do more. No question about that.’” [Politico, 4/12/20]
- CDC Director Robert Redfield: “‘We are going to need a substantial expansion of public health fieldworkers… This, along with ample testing, is what will be needed ‘to make sure that when we open up, we open up for good.’” [NPR, 4/10/20]
- Director Of The National Institute Of Allergy And Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci: “When we turn the corner and it goes down, we have to have in place the ability to do the kind of containment that’s pristine — namely, you test like crazy, you identify people, you isolate them and you do contact tracing.’” [The Hill, 4/3/20]
- Former FDA Commissioners Mark McClellan And Scott Gottlieb: “At the same time that we confront the current crisis, we must plan for the future by putting in place tools to enhance our ability to conduct effective surveillance, containment, and case management… There is no time to lose.” [Duke Margolis Center for Health Policy, McClellan et al., 4/7/20]
- Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottieb And Former Deputy Director Of FDA’s Medical Device Center Lauren Silvis: “Until there is a vaccine, preventing Covid-19 outbreaks will depend mostly on testing, isolation and tracing the contacts of people who test positive.” [Wall Street Journal, Scott Gottlieb and Lauren Silvis, 4/12/20]
- Director Of Yale School Of Public Health’s Health-Care Management Program Howard Forman: “Even accounting for the lack of reporting by many states (which is, of itself, unacceptable), we are at a seemingly semi-permanent plateau that is 1/6 or less from where we should be EVERY day. If you want to open the country up, START testing.” [Twitter, Howard Forman, 4/12/20]
- Director Of Yale School Of Public Health’s Health-Care Management Program Howard Forman: “Italy is testing at MORE than twice our rate, per capita. We should have been performing more than 1 million persons per day, weeks ago!” [Twitter, Howard Forman, 4/11/20]
- Harvard Epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch: “Testing is still too behind to know for sure when restrictions should be lifted in the United States, Harvard epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch told the USA TODAY Editorial Board on Wednesday.” [USA Today, 4/8/20]
- Amesh Adalja, Senior Scholar, Johns Hopkins Center For Health Security: “It’s not a question of whether there’s going to be more cases after you lift social distancing. They are going to occur. We just want them to occur at a rate that is manageable. And the only way that’s going to happen is with testing.” [Vox, 4/10/20]
- Tom Inglesby, Director Of The Center For Health Security At Johns Hopkins University: We Need “Extensive Diagnostic Testing Capability” To Lift Restrictions On Society. Asked what needed to be done before social distancing measures could be lifted, Inglesby answered: “Extensive diagnostic testing capability. Right now we’re focused on the sickest patients—as we should be—in hospitals and long-term care facilities and health care workers. But we need to get to a point where anybody who’s got symptoms consistent with COVID-19 can get a test and have results in the same day.” [Scientific American, 4/6/20]
- University Of California San Francisco Epidemiologist Jeffrey Martin: “If there’s enough testing around and people are willing to be tested, the brushfires can be identified and put out before the wildfire… The only way that a society can function is if the brushfires are identified and put out.” [Vox, 4/13/20]
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