Zuurtje schreef op 20 november 2020 10:15:
Covid testing strained again as U.S. heads into holidays
The delays are happening as the country braces for winter weather, flu season and holiday travel.
Image: Covid-19 testing site
Cars lined up at a Covid-19 testing site at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Wednesday.Robyn Beck / AFP - Getty Images
SHARE THIS —
Nov. 19, 2020, 11:29 AM EST
By The Associated Press
NEW YORK — With coronavirus cases surging and families hoping to gather safely for Thanksgiving, long lines to get tested have reappeared across the U.S. — a reminder that the nation’s strained testing system remains unable to keep pace with the virus.
The delays are happening as the country braces for winter weather, flu season and holiday travel, all of which are expected to amplify a U.S. outbreak that has already swelled past 11.5 million cases and 250,000 deaths.
Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak
Laboratories warned that continuing shortages of key supplies are likely to create more bottlenecks and delays, especially as cases rise across the nation and people rush to get tested before reuniting with relatives.
“As those cases increase, demand increases and turnaround times may increase,” said Scott Becker, CEO of the Association of Public Health Laboratories. “So it’s like a dog chasing its tail.”
Lines spanned multiple city blocks at testing sites across New York City this week, leaving people waiting three or more hours before they could even enter health clinics. In Los Angeles, thousands lined up outside Dodger Stadium for drive-thru testing.
“This is insane,” said 39-year-old Chaunta Renaud as she entered her fourth hour waiting to enter a so-called rapid testing site in Brooklyn on Tuesday. Renaud and her husband planned to get tested before Thanksgiving, when they will drive to pick up her mother for the holiday. “We got tested before and it wasn’t anything like this,” she said.
Cases are rising by more than 25 percent in half of the country. But testing isn't.
On the one hand, the fact that testing problems are only now emerging — more than a month into the latest virus surge — is a testament to the country’s increased capacity. The U.S. is testing over 1.5 million people per day on average, more than double the rate in July, when many Americans last faced long lines.
But experts like Johns Hopkins University researcher Gigi Gronvall said the U.S. is still falling far short of what’s needed to control the virus.
Gronvall said the current testing rate “is on its way, but it’s nowhere close to what’s needed to shift the course of this epidemic.” Many experts have called for anywhere between 4 million and 15 million daily tests to suppress the virus.