March 19, 2020

THE FAILURE OF THE BUREAUCRATS: What Went Wrong with Coronavirus Testing in the U.S. “The public-health-laboratory network was never intended to provide widespread testing in the event of a pandemic. To offer tests to anyone who wanted them, as President Trump did, on March 6th, was always going to require commercial testing facilities to come on line. Still, the three-week delay caused by the C.D.C.’s failure to get working test kits into the hands of the public-health labs came at a crucial time. In the early stages of an outbreak, contact tracing, isolation, and individual quarantines are regularly deployed to contain the spread of a disease. But these tools are useless if suspected cases of a disease cannot be tested. The void created by the C.D.C.’s faulty tests made it impossible for public-health authorities to get an accurate picture of how far and how fast the disease was spreading. In hotspots like Seattle, and probably elsewhere, COVID-19 spread undetected for several weeks, which in turn only multiplied the need for more tests.”

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