But to an almost astonishing degree, the U.S. has no national plan for achieving this goal. There is no effort at the federal level that has mustered anything like the funding, coordination, or real resources that experts across the political spectrum say is needed to safely reopen the county.
“Testing is your first fundamental step in a plan to keep infected people from susceptible people,” Ashish Jha, the K. T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard and the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told me yesterday. But the federal government has failed to expand testing capacity in any meaningful way, he said.
“There’s a strong sense that the White House knows the amount of testing we need is far more than we have right now,” he said, though senior Trump officials have insisted that the country’s testing supply is adequate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the country’s foremost public-health agency, has been almost “totally useless” on testing, he said. “It is really stunning and disappointing.”…
What caused the plateau? Nobody is certain. “Some places had reagents, but not enough swabs. Some places had swabs but not the medium you transport them in. … And some places had enough capacity, but they hadn’t changed their policies from when only the sickest people could get tested,” Jha said. This week, governors have continued to say they lack enough tests. In the District of Columbia, where the number of new cases is increasing, Mayor Muriel Bowser said at a press conference today that the city only had enough reagents to test about 1,500 people per day.