The United States faces a disease, covid-19, that is killing thousands, shattering the economy and upending our way of life. And the agency charged with controlling and preventing has done neither.

Maybe that’s too much to ask. But what has the CDC done to help? The Atlanta laboratories, formerly the gold standard for battling emerging disease, punted away weeks of precious time by botching a test when aggressive testing of the public might have meaningfully slowed the coronavirus. Then the agency dithered on travel advisories as the pandemic swept the globe and rooted itself deeply in the United States. Even today, months into the crisis — when clear, actionable information is desperately needed by the public — the CDC’s coronavirus website is a scandal. Wonder whether you ought to be examined for the disease? Click on the CDC’s “Should You Get Tested” page. There is no better example of thorough hand-washing than this. “Try calling your state or local health department or a medical provider,” says the sad shell of its former self. “While supplies of these tests are increasing, it may still be difficult to find a place to get tested.”

It certainly may. It may also be difficult to get results of your test in less than a week or more. For that matter, you may be among the estimated 30 percent of tested patients who are getting false results. Or your results may be among the estimated 650,000 tests — half of the national total — that haven’t been communicated to the White House task force.