US Vice President Mike Pence said Friday that there are enough tests for states seeking to reopen under phase one guidelines.
“Our top scientists and health experts believe that states today have enough tests to apply the first-phase criteria if they want to,” said Pence.
“Let me repeat: given the directions in the President’s new guidelines for reopening America, states that meet the criteria for entering phase one and then are preparing the tests that are being considered for moving to phase one – our best scientists and health experts believe that today we have enough tests to meet the requirements of the first phase of reopening if state governors choose to do so. “
Earlier, CNN reported that while some labs say testing capacity is not an issue, others are still reporting shortages.
Although delays in testing – and shortages of test supplies – have been reported in the United States, it is also possible that a slowdown in the pandemic is responsible for the reported decline in testing.
In the United States, tests are primarily performed on those who are symptomatic. While the country is still experiencing an increasing number of cases, social distancing measures seem to be working, limiting the transmission of the virus.
Assuming there are enough tests available, this slowdown could explain why fewer people need tests in hospitals, doctors’ offices and other sites. Or, doctors may simply order fewer tests, perhaps reserving them only for the sickest patients.
If there is no widespread availability of tests, however, the reported decline in cases can be misleading.
In a statement released Wednesday, the American Clinical Laboratory Association – which represents commercial laboratories such as LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics – said testing capacity was not an issue.
“ACLA members have now eliminated test delays and have considerable capacity that is not being used,” said the group.
“We are ready to carry out more tests and are in close communication with public health partners on how to meet additional needs.”
However, other groups have reported problems. In a letter to the White House Coronavirus task force on Monday, the Association of American Medical Colleges said laboratories are facing critical shortages.
“Widespread but uneven shortages in one or more of the essential components for testing have resulted in a situation where few laboratories are able to maximize the testing capacity of a machine, platform or test” said the group.
He added that “laboratories across the country are working around the clock to increase testing capacity but are severely hampered by shortages of necessary reagents, test buffers, PPE and specialized equipment designed by companies. to be used with their own machines. “