MONDAY, May 4, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- A new analysis shows inadequate levels of testing for COVID-19 in 60 percent of states, many of which are actively reopening after weeks of lockdown.
The analysis, conducted by the Associated Press, used a threshold of a 2 percent testing rate per month -- a rate advised by federal officials that many public health experts still feel falls short. In a recent White House briefing, officials said each state would receive enough testing materials to test 2.6 percent of their populations in both May and June. Representatives of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also offered another number -- 2 percent -- without explaining the reason for the discrepancy between the two rates.
But according to the AP analysis, right now, just 40 percent of states can even meet the lower 2 percent threshold for testing. The news agency's analysis is based on data on the average number of new daily tests conducted during the past seven days in a particular state. Data come from the COVID Tracking Project and include numbers up to April 30. Many states that are either already actively reopening businesses or plan to soon -- Colorado, Florida, South Carolina, Texas, and Georgia -- have not met the 2 percent testing threshold.
Many health experts believe the 2 percent and 2.6 percent testing thresholds offered by the government are insufficient to help monitor and curb COVID-19 spread and do not take into account current U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on who should be tested. "Why don't they say, 'We'll test everybody with any symptoms of coronavirus and all their contacts?'" James Curran, M.D., M.P.H., a former assistant U.S. surgeon general who worked at the CDC for 25 years, told the AP. "If that amounts to 2 percent that's fine, but the guidelines are not to test 2 percent. The guidelines are to test who needs it."