Will U.S. Have Learned Its Lessons About Testing Shortages Before Fall’s Second Wave?
Testing has long been the Achilles Heel of the U.S. pandemic response. While experts say it has improved since the beginning of the pandemic, the system will likely be stretched thin once more with the convergence of states, schools and businesses reopening and the likely second wave of the virus. Meanwhile, the adult film industry can provide a road map for how to best test workers.
Next Testing Debacle: The Fall Virus Surge
The U.S is now conducting more than 3 million coronavirus tests a week, a big improvement over the shortages and failures that worsened the pandemic this spring. But the country risks another dangerous testing deficit this fall when schools and businesses try to reopen. Safely reopening schools and businesses could require up to 30 million tests per week, rather than the current three million, certain experts say. And if surging coronavirus cases collide with flu season, the demand could be even higher. “We could have a situation that would stretch us,” said Nate Smith, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Health. “We’re likely to see people who are infected with both at the same time. No one knows exactly how that’s going to look.” (Lim and Ollstein, 6/17)
The New York Times:
Lessons On Coronavirus Testing From The Adult Film Industry
As more states open up and people return to work, companies are looking for guidance on how to keep workers safe from infection. Some experts suggest looking to what may seem an unlikely model: the adult film industry. It survived a different pandemic — an outbreak of H.I.V. infections in the late 1990s that almost shuttered the multibillion-dollar industry. “We can actually learn a lot about safety guidelines by listening to producers of porn,” said Perry N. Halkitis, dean of the School of Public Health at Rutgers University. “Thinking back to the H.I.V./AIDS crisis, the adult film industry had to learn how to keep their workers safe.” (Hollow, 6/18)
The Associated Press:
US Warns 3 Companies Over Illegal At-Home COVID-19 Tests
U.S. health regulators are cracking down on three companies for selling at-home blood tests for coronavirus, warning that the products have not been shown to safely and accurately screen for COVID-19. The Food and Drug Administration sent warning letters to the companies Wednesday, saying their products are illegal because they have not been reviewed by the agency for home use. While the FDA has OK’d a handful of tests that allow patients to collect saliva samples at home, the agency has not cleared any tests for use completely at home. (Perrone, 6/17)
Kaiser Health News and Politifact HealthCheck:
Trump’s Take On COVID Testing Misses Public Health Realities
President Donald Trump sought to downplay the numbers associated with COVID-19 in the United States — which have passed 2 million confirmed cases and are nearing 120,000 lives lost — by arguing that the soaring national count was simply the result of superior testing. “If you don’t test, you don’t have any cases,” Trump said at a June 15 roundtable discussion at the White House. “If we stopped testing right now, we’d have very few cases, if any.” (Luthra, 6/17)
Meanwhile, states are still struggling to build up their armies of contact tracers, another key component of reopening —
As States Reopen, Do They Have Enough Staff To Do Contact Tracing?
An NPR survey of state health departments shows that the national coronavirus contact tracing workforce has tripled in the last six weeks, from 11,142 to 37,110 workers. Yet, given their current case counts, only seven states and the District of Columbia are staffed to the level public health researchers say is needed to contain outbreaks. Contact tracers are public health workers who reach out to each new positive coronavirus case, track down their contacts, and connect both the sick person and those who were exposed with the services they need to be able to safely isolate themselves. This is an essential part of stamping out emerging outbreaks. (Simmons-Duffin, 6/18)