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"Growing Wait Times for Covid-19 Test Results Hinder Virus Response"

The Wall Street Journal interviewed Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health professor-in-residence of epidemiology and community health sciences, on how failures and delays in the U.S. testing effort are hobbling the pandemic response. 

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Over the past week, nearly two dozen states have reported fresh highs in coronavirus cases. Unfortunately, many of the new cases they reported were already several days behind the speeding pathogen’s actual reach.

The latest rash of outbreaks in Florida, Nevada, Georgia, Texas and beyond has resurrected one of the early problems that bogged down this country’s initial response to the pandemic in the spring: Many people in coronavirus hot spots are now waiting more than a week, and in some cases several weeks, for test results.

Testing-supply shortages and delays can hamstring contact-tracing efforts, complicate decisions on whether to open or close businesses and cloud statistics used to track the virus’s spread. It also means some individuals are likely continuing to spread the virus because they either don’t yet have a result, were unable to get tested or haven’t yet been told that they have been exposed to an infected person.