The novel coronavirus a national emergency. As of this evening, the virus has infected 8,017 people across the United States (confirmed), has killed 143, and health experts warn it will only get worse in the coming days, weeks and months.1
Health professionals say there aren't enough tests available to test everyone who needs it, which leaves decision-makers largely in the dark on the scope of the problem and how best to contain it.2 That’s why we are joining the Florida Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) in urging that everyone who needs a test, gets a test.
Join us in sending a message to Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Brett Giroir, the new head of coronavirus testing response, telling him to immediately adopt a plan to make sure that everyone who needs a test gets a test in the next seven days. Send your message now.
President Clinton’s Food and Drug Administration Commissioner, Dr. David Kessler, recently outlined a plan to address the testing problem.3 It includes four crucial provisions:
- Expand testing locations by granting universities and private institutions the ability to test, using drive-through testing, and getting Department of Defense medics to staff mobile testing units.
- Expedite testing by directing UPS, Amazon, FedEx and USPS to coordinate on shipping.
- Improve data management by getting Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and others to consult on managing the huge flow of new data.
- Communicate clearly by getting the American Medical Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and others to give clear guidance on who needs a test, where to get the test, and what to make of the results.
Beyond Commissioner Kessler's recommendations, Progress Florida and Florida PIRG are calling on Admiral Giroir to increase the number of test kits sent out into the field, and ensure that each testing location has the necessary tools to process the results swiftly. The sooner we can get a more accurate picture of the pandemic's spread, the more effectively we can deal with it.
1. "Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the U.S", Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accessed 13 March 2020; Bill Chappell, "Coronavirus: Over 1,000 Cases Now In U.S., And 'It's Going To Get Worse,' Fauci Says," NPR, March 11, 2020.
2. Ashley Fantz, Scott Bronstein and Drew Griffin, "Confusion over the availability and criteria for coronavirus testing is leaving sick people wondering if they're infected," CNN, March 13, 2020.
3. David Kessler, MD, "How to Fix the Coronavirus Testing Mess in 7 Days," The New York Times, March 13, 2020.