‘We Don’t Have Enough Tests’: Despite Promises, Pence Admits The Supply Can’t Yet Meet The Demand
Vice President Mike Pence initially claimed the government would be able to provide testing "for those that we believe have been exposed, for those who are showing symptoms." HHS Secretary Alex Azar now says that the government will be able to provide testing for about 400,000 people by week's end.
Pence Admits 'We Don't Have Enough Tests' To Meet Demands As Delay In Coronavirus Testing Persists
Confusion and delays appear to persist in testing Americans for coronavirus even after an outcry from state and local health authorities that the United States was behind in determining the extent of the outbreak. Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading the administration's response to the coronavirus crisis, acknowledged Thursday there was a shortfall in the number of testing kits required to meet demand. "We don't have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward," Pence told reporters while touring 3M facilities in Minnesota. (Liptak, 3/5)
The Associated Press:
US Labs Await Virus-Testing Kits Promised By Administration
Trump administration officials doubled down on their promise to deliver 1 million tests for the coronavirus this week as states reported limited testing supplies and federal lawmakers expressed doubts about the government's timeline. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters Thursday that a private manufacturer authorized to make the tests expects to ship the kits to U.S. laboratories by week's end. That amounts to the capacity to test roughly 400,000 people, given that it takes multiple test samples to a confirm a result. (Perrone and Stobbe, 3/5)
U.S. Will Be Able To Test 400,000 People For Coronavirus By Week's End: Officials
"Right now, it is a challenge if you are a doctor wanting to get somebody tested," Azar said, following a briefing with lawmakers, adding that physicians could only reach out to a limited network of public health labs. "That experience will get better over the next week, week and a half, two weeks. But do not be surprised if you hear concerns of doctors saying: 'I have a patient. I don't know how to get this done,'" Azar told reporters. (3/5)
I Lived Through SARS And Reported On Ebola. These Are The Questions We Should Be Asking About Coronavirus.
It doesn’t matter if boxes upon boxes of kits are available if labs are struggling to set up the tests or are short on staff to run them. At the end of the day, what I want to know (and I imagine, what everyone wants to know) is how many people can be tested. That’s the unit that I am pressing public health officials and lab directors for when I interview them. Here are some basics that may be useful to keep in mind: The CDC test kits can be thought of somewhat like a Blue Apron meal kit; there’s some assembly required before a lab can begin testing. It’s not like a protein bar, ready to eat straight out of the wrapper. As of Wednesday, the Association of Public Health Laboratories, which represents public health labs across the United States, told me that each CDC test kit can run about 700 specimens. (Chen, 3/5)
What Actually Happens During A Coronavirus Test?
You have a fever. You're in respiratory distress. And you might even be hospitalized with pneumonia. Doctors worry you may have been infected with the novel coronavirus. What happens next? Ideally, you'll be tested for the virus, which has sickened tens of thousands of people worldwide and killed more than 3,000. (Azad, 3/5)
In other testing news —
U.S. Military Deploys First Kits For Coronavirus Testing But Capacity Limited
U.S. military laboratories have started receiving their own testing kits to determine whether American troops have the new coronavirus, officials said, after relying on outside testing in the roughly two months since China reported the first cases. But capacity is still limited, as is the distribution of the test kits, they say. (Stewart, 3/5)
When Coronavirus Struck Seattle, This Lab Was Ready To Start Testing
It's been a busy week at the virology lab run by UW Medicine, which includes the University of Washington's medical school and hospitals. "We've already gone to three shifts," says Dr. Keith Jerome, a professor in the department of laboratory medicine who runs the lab. "People are going to be here basically all the time." (Hamilton, 3/5)
After 'Troubled' Beginning, Coronavirus Testing Is Ramping Up In Mass.
"I'm sure you've heard of the troubled story of rolling out testing to the state public health laboratories," Dr. Larry Madoff of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health told lawmakers Wednesday. "I'm happy to say that we've overcome those obstacles now, and that testing is going on, has been going on since last week at the state public health laboratory." That "troubled story" refers to widespread complaints that the supply of tests from the federal government has fallen far short of what's needed. Now, the federal criteria for testing have been broadened to allow doctors more discretion to order tests, and Madoff told lawmakers the supply is expanding. (Goldberg, 3/5)