Coronavirus testing has leveled off. Experts say it has to double before we can return to normalcy.
Coronavirus testing is one of the biggest things stopping the U.S. from reopening.
After weeks of continually upping its COVID-19 testing capacity, the U.S. seems to have hit a plateau of around 150,000 tests per day. President Trump and Republicans are still pushing to restart economic activity as soon as possible, but experts say the U.S. needs to at least double or triple its testing capacity before that can happen, NBC News reports.
The U.S. has had a severely limited COVID-19 testing capacity since the virus first appeared in the country. Tests are often limited to hospitalized patients, even though people can contract and spread the disease and show no symptoms, and hospitals have reported shortages in swabs and other supplies needed to conduct tests. As a result, only about 1 percent of the U.S. population has been tested, NBC News notes.
That dismal rate led Dr. Dan Hanfling, who worked in the National Healthcare Preparedness Program during the Obama and Trump administrations, to say "I don't think we're close" to being able to reopen the economy. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told Axios the U.S. needs to be performing 500,000 tests a day to consider reopening. Other experts tell NBC News that number should be more like millions or tens of millions of tests each day.
Without more tests, it won't be clear who can return to work and who needs to stay home longer, or where exactly the disease is spreading most rapidly — and that's to say nothing of coronavirus antibody tests that may paint a picture of resistance to the disease. Read more at NBC News.