Americans are testing positive for coronavirus in record-breaking numbers across the US and the surge in cases is slowing down the time tests take.
Labs across the country are now facing what seems like an almost "infinite" demand, one expert says.
"We really do need to improve our turnaround times, primarily in areas and counties of outbreaks," Adm. Brett Giroir, a White House coronavirus task force member, said.
As the country approaches 4 million cases, Trump has repeatedly responded with the argument that the large number of US cases is evidence of the country's success with testing. But per CNN's fact check reporting, Trump's own officials and his Republican allies have acknowledged it's not true that a rising number of tests is the reason the number of cases has skyrocketed over the last month.
One telling piece of evidence that the spike is genuine: the percentage of people testing positive, a key measure of the true spread of the virus, has also spiked.
Giroir, who heads the US's testing efforts, said yesterday that there are probably fewer cases compared to April because of more testing, but “there is no question we are having a surge right now. We are approaching this with extreme seriousness.”
Giroir said yesterday that in June, states "really crushed" their testing goals of over 16 million tests, and now are routinely doing 750,000 to 800,000 tests per day.
Speaking in a hearing on Capitol Hill on July 2, Giroir told lawmakers that the US had performed more than 35 million Covid-19 tests and is now averaging "over 550,000 tests per day." With regards to the national stockpile, Giroir said he estimated the nation will have the capacity to perform 40 to 50 million tests per month by the fall.
But even these current numbers are well below the number of tests experts said the US should be doing now. In early May, a team at the Harvard Global Health Institute said the US should be testing at least 900,000 people a day by May 15.
According to a different group of experts, whose work was also supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, the US needed to deliver at least 5 million tests per day by early June to begin reopening. It said as many as 20 million tests per day would be needed to fully remobilize the economy, ideally by late July.
The "Roadmap to Pandemic Resilience," published by Harvard University's Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, argues that without widespread testing, state and local officials will get caught in cycles of opening up and then clamping down again on commerce and free movement.
According to Covid-19 testing data from The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last updated on Monday:
- More than 48 million Covid-19 tests have been reported in the US. The CDC dashboard notes that the agency includes both viral tests and antibody tests in its testing data.
- More than 4.5 million of those tests have been positive.
Remember: Viral tests tell you if you currently have an infection with the virus that causes Covid-19. Antibody blood tests check for antibodies, which show if you had a previous infection with the virus. Those numbers represent the number of tests performed, and a single person may have been tested more than once.
With reporting from CNN's Amanda Watts, Daniel DaleHolmes Lybrand