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Seven States Join Pact to Speed COVID-19 Testing

Bipartisan plan illustrates just how bad testing delays are across the country

swab test for coronavirus

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 5, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- As the daily U.S. COVID-19 death toll averaged more than 1,000 for the ninth straight day on Tuesday, governors from seven states banded together to shorten turnaround time for COVID-19 test results.

Three Republican governors and three Democratic governors signed an interstate testing agreement on Tuesday, The New York Times reported. Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, and Virginia will work with the Rockefeller Foundation and two U.S. manufacturers of rapid tests to buy 3 million tests, the newspaper said. A seventh state, North Carolina, later joined the pact, CNN reported. The bipartisan plan illustrates just how bad testing delays are across the country.

The United States is testing about 755,000 people a day, up from about 640,000 per day a month ago. Most people who are tested do not receive results within the 24 to 48 hours recommended by public health experts to slow the virus's spread and quickly conduct contact tracing, according to a new survey by researchers from Harvard University, Northeastern University, Northwestern University, and Rutgers University, The Times reported.

People who had been tested for the virus in July reported an average wait time of about four days, the survey of 19,000 Americans revealed. Overall, about 10 percent of people reported waiting 10 days or more. "A test result that comes back in seven or eight days is worthless for everybody -- it shouldn't even be counted," Amesh Adalja, M.D., a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security in Baltimore, told The Times. "It's not a test in any kind of effective manner because it's not actionable."

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