National virus testing is needed

President Donald Trump speaks Monday during a news conference at the White House. Tasos Katopodis/Pool/AbacaPress.com/Tribune News Service

The following editorial appeared in the Mercury News on April 21:

SAN JOSE, Calif. (Tribune News Service) — Three months after the first U.S. case of the novel coronavirus was reported, the country still has no national testing strategy.

Most public health experts agree that production and deployment of coronavirus testing on a nationwide basis is an essential part of the short- and long-term goal of reopening the economy

Even the Trump administration’s plan for the nation to start to get back to business relies on widespread availability of testing. But the most glaring weakness of the plan is its failure to outline a comprehensive strategy to make that happen.

States do not have the resources or power to jump-start massive testing, nor does it make sense for the nation’s 50 governors to each try to find their own way. This is a job for the federal government.

But Republicans and President Donald Trump were balking Monday at including $25 billion in a stimulus package for the creation of a national testing program, reportedly over fears that they would be blamed if it failed. The dispute was holding up an agreement between Congress and the administration to provide $450 billion for more small-business loans and funding for hospitals.

Trump tweeted that the states should be doing the testing. As people continue to die, the president’s lack of leadership or willingness to own responsibility is astonishing.

One way or another, a national strategy must be implemented. Ever since the crisis began, public health officials have been forced to work with unreliable numbers to make decisions that impact all of our lives. A drop in hospitalizations in an area does not, by itself, provide justification for relaxing sheltering-in-place orders.

Testing is the only way to know how many people have been infected and how deadly the disease is. Those numbers will help public health officials decide when it’s safe for people to return to work and resume their normal day-to-day activities. Doing so too soon risks a recurring surge of infections.

Telling people to stay home if they feel sick isn’t enough. The problem is that many people spreading the virus don’t show symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 25 percent of those who test positive may have been only mildly ill or don’t even realize they were infected. An Iceland study suggests that the number might be as high as 50 percent.

Before we can reopen, we need to know how many total cases and how many silent carriers there are in localities, states and the nation.

That requires testing across the country. It’s essential that we get it done. It’s long overdue.

Visit the Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) at www.mercurynews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency. © 2020 Mercury News.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(11) comments

Holmes

Odd isn’t it that the worst outbreaks are where democrats are in charge. Hmmm, who would have predicted that?

hermit thrush

yes, it really is odd that outbreaks all over the world have appeared first in cities, which are hubs for transportation, and the same pattern has repeated itself here. who would have predicted that indeed.

are you sure you really got your money's worth out of those two stem degrees?

Holmes

More than you could imagine... Truth hurts doesn’t it, my original comment stands. Facts are something the Democrats can’t deal with.

hermit thrush

you do kind of have a point, stem guy, although not the one you think. because of trump administration policy, ny was not able to effectively test for the virus in february. they changed the policy on feb. 29 to allow ny to do its own testing, and the first case was confirmed the next day. ny has ended up with one of the worst outbreaks because trump stuck it to us.

Nice_Commenter

North Korea has no cases at all. Amazing! Just like the low numbers in Tennessee, since they aren’t really testing there. As long as you don’t test you don’t have cases, right? You are the STEM expert here.

keyser soze

Ha, ha, ha…

Truth AND Facts in the same comment coming from Mr. B.S. Bogus his self.

Truth is, YOU wouldn’t recognize the truth if a bucket full was dumped over your head.

Fact is, just like the pathological lying president YOU are allergic to facts.

You do earn a point for being funny though.

Nice_Commenter

Lack of testing means lack of disease! Perfect science. We need to learn for North Korea, they have no cases at all. (also no testing, but that is meaningless you science experts like you)

Holmes -- the real one

"Two STEM degrees"

Just like sipping that fine Cabernet while reflecting on the stock market.

Nice_Commenter

He science guy, you do not understand the difference between having positive test results and being ignorant by not testing people. You are basically saying that since Republican areas are lagging in testing they must not have this disease. Amazing that you would say you have a stem degree you don’t understand middle school level science.

MD

What is a stem degree, something like a GED?

Nice_Commenter

Republican Governors have adopted the strategy of not testing, that way Fox News types are dumb enough to confuse lack of test results with absence of the disease. You can read comments on this website from people who are so stupid they think the places that have lagged in testing don’t have the disease. These are the same people dumb enough to believe Trump’s claims on Hydroquinine, which kills people with COVID-19. It is almost like electing a racist reality show host to be president was a bad idea.

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