Public officials across the United States are flying blind against the COVID-19 epidemic. Because of a government-engineered testing fiasco, they do not know how fast the virus is spreading, how many people have been infected by it, how many will die as a result, or how many have developed immunity to it.

The failure to implement early and wide testing, which was caused by a combination of short-sightedness, ineptitude, and bureaucratic intransigence, left politicians scrambling to avoid a hospital crisis by imposing broad business closure and stay-at-home orders. It foreclosed the possibility of a more proactive and targeted approach, focused on identifying carriers, tracing their contacts, and protecting the public through isolation and quarantines.