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Where are the tests?

March 19, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

The US got a late start providing coronavirus tests, amid CDC stumbles in their development, and now manufacturing lags as the crisis--and outrage--grows, writes Dwayne Breining, MD, of Northwell Health Labs. Testing capabilities will ramp up quickly and steadily in the next two weeks as new, accurate, quality controlled tests come off the manufacturing line, he predicts.

View more opinion articles on CNN.

Where are the tests?

There are only a relative few public health facilities -- less than 100 at the moment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- around the country that have been approved to perform the tests, including Northwell Health Labs, one of the nation's largest hospital labs, where I work, on Long Island in New York.

Currently, we are testing about 200 patient samples in our lab each day, using US Food and Drug Administration-approved manual and semi-automated testing systems.

With the limited supplies, health care providers have needed to prioritize testing the sickest patients.

We're not doing enough testing because there are not enough tests out there yet.

Then the CDC had some missteps in supplying the state public health departments with test kits, and by the time the first patient died in Washington State, the CDC had only managed to distribute the test kits to about a dozen labs in a handful of states out of the 50.

At that point, when it became clear that the virus was spreading faster than the CDC could deploy test kits, the FDA turned around and opened up the authorization criteria so that other laboratories, like ours, could develop their own.

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