The difficulties of testing for COVID-19 in the United States

The impact of COVID-19 is being felt globally and as the number of cases keeps rising, people are wondering how testing is being counted. 

The United States became the country with the most cases of coronavirus worldwide on March 26 with over 100,000 positive cases of the virus. 

The Centers for Disease Control, which is based in the states says that there are 95 public health laboratories spread across all 50 states that are verified to test for COVID-19. The CDC also states that certified laboratories no longer need to get their tests verified by the Food and Drug Administration before putting tests into action but have 15 days after designing the test to communicate to the FDA, according to a CDC diagnostics policy document

Typically during a health crisis the CDC is the first to develop diagnostic tests in the U.S. however due to problems manufacturing their test the CDC and FDA have allowed commercial manufactures and certified public health labs to make the tests more readily available to the public, according the U.S. FDA. 

Due to public health labs making their own tests there are no FDA guidelines on recording the tests, whether positive or negative of coronavirus, this has led to some inaccuracies in numbers and ordinary people to take charge. 

Data Source: Our world Data Coronavirus Testing

As of April 1 there have been 1,149,960 tests taken in the United States, according to the COVID Tracking Project. 

The project comes after officials plead for more tests and numbers of testing are being questioned. 

The COVID Tracking project was started by journalists to attempt to gather correct testing numbers throughout the country from state and local governments, verified news sources and the federal government. It is made up of journalists who contribute by attending official press conferences and ask local, state and federal leaders how many cases there are and 100 volunteers who gather data.  

In comparison, in the UK the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England reports there have been 152,979 people tested, positive and negative, for coronavirus.

In the UK “the results of these tests are submitted to PHE through the Second Generation Surveillance System (SGSS). Confirmed positive cases are matched to ONS geographical area codes using the home postcode of the person tested as supplied by the laboratory information systems,” according to a PHE COVID-19 dashboard document.

Photo by: Brian McGowan on Unsplash

In order to be tested in the United States, you must exhibit symptoms call your local doctor and then be referred to a testing center near you, register for a spot on the list to get tested, attend and wait in line, then wait for test results days later.

“If we had all the resources in the world and could wave a magic wand, we would be happy to test these people, but they’re not there, so I’m afraid we’re having to prioritize,” Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told CNN.

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