Coronavirus test kits are in short supply, were flawed when they were first distributed to labs across the US and abroad, and the results can take days for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to verify.
Even the CDC’s coronavirus point person, Dr Nancy Messonnier, admitted on Friday that the diagnostic has been a disappointment.
‘This has not gone as well as we hoped,’ she said during Friday press briefing.
California, where more than half of the nation’s coronavirus patients either live or are quarantined, has enough test kits to test just 200 patients, Governor Gavin Newsom said on Thursday.
If each of the six states with labs that can run the tests has the same number, only 1,200 people can be tested by technicians outside the CDC itself, although officials there have promised to have tests in every state’s health department by the end of next week.
That’s only 200 more than Hong Kong officials are testing each day. Meanwhile, only a total of 445 people in the US had been tested as of Friday.
Experts worry that there may be many more cases of coronavirus in the US than we are aware off, a concern that’s pushed New York to take matters into its own hands. The state’s health department is now making a test in an effort to speed screening.
States were only sent a couple hundred of CDC’s coronavirus test kits. Now that a likely case of the infection due to community spread has been identified, public health experts are concerned that’s not nearly enough – and New York is making its own
So far, 62 people in the US have tested positive for coronavirus.
But only 15 of those came from the general public. The remaining 47 were evacuated either from the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, China, or from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined in Japan and became the largest hotspot of infections outside mainland China.
The most recently diagnosed patient is the most worrisome in the US to-date.
On Wednesday, California officials announced that a woman in Solano had tested positive for coronavirus.
And they had no idea how she got it.
So far, the 12 of the American patients were diagnosed following travel to China.
The spouses of two of those patients were also confirmed to have the virus.
But the latest patient has not recently traveled to China, and none of her immediate family or close contacts had the virus or were suspected of having it.
If continued contact tracing doesn’t turn up a source of the virus, the woman’s case will indicate that the infection is spreading in US communities, independent of travel history.
In that case, health officials will need to shift tactics and start testing people with no recent history of travel to China or close contacts with such a history for coronavirus – but at this rate, they won’t have nearly enough tests to do so.
The confirmed woman was in the hospital with severe respiratory illness for several days before doctors there contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Researchers in New Jersey are working on developing a test for coronavirus, independent of the CDC, whose diagnostic has proven faulty and is in short supply
She had not fit the CDC’s criteria for a potential coronavirus patient who should be tested for the infection.
But once contacted, officials there amended the criteria and the woman tested positive.
It was a several day delay, however, between her arrival at the hospital and the test results, which didn’t come back from the CDC until three days after they were first notified about the woman.
Now, her condition has deteriorated to ‘serious’ and she’s been intubated, California Representative John Garamendi told CNN.
More test kits would mean faster diagnoses, earlier informed treatment and quicker contact tracing.
Officials in New York are trying to make that happen independent of the federal health organization.
Rather than wait for the CDC to send out more tests – and fix the faulty ones that New York has deemed unusable – the state and New York City are attempting to make their own, Buzzfeed News reported.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has allocated $40 million to the state’s coronavirus response, including the development of its own diagnostic test
Test kits aren’t the only thing in short supply. New Yorkers are buying stores out of hand sanitzer (pictured – or, not pictured) and face masks
Georgia, too, is making independent moves, forming its own coronavirus task force, which convened with Governor Brian Kemp (center) on Friday
The Food and Drug Administration even gave the city and state its blessing to move forward with its own test development while the CDC is reformulating its diagnostic.
‘The only question is which will come on line first,’ New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Deputy Commissioner Demetre Daskalakis told Buzzfeed News.
New York Governor Cuomo has allocated $40 million the state’s response to coronavirus. There are no cases confirmed there so far, although 83 people in Nassau County are being monitored for the infection and one person in New York City has been tested.
‘The Governor is also calling on the federal government to authorize the Wadsworth Center and NYC Public Health Lab to test for the virus, allowing for expanded testing capacity and expedited test results’ said a press release from the governor’s office.
‘New York State has independently worked to develop and validate a test using the CDC protocol.
‘Upon FDA approval, Wadsworth can immediately begin testing to support New York State and other states in the northeast region if necessary.’
As of Friday, Georgia also formed its own coronavirus task force, despite the fact that none of handful of people it has tested have been positive for the infection.
A shortage of tests is just one of several federal foibles stoking fears of a worsening outbreak. HHS Secretary Azar also said Wednesday that the US not only has an insufficient stockpile of protective gear and face masks for health professionals, but currently lacks the manufacturing capacity to make them.