According to an investigation by The Atlantic, only 4,384 people had been tested for the coronavirus across the United States, as of Monday at 4pm eastern time. The low testing numbers may mean that the number of infected Americans may actually be greater than what’s being reported.
Testing capacity across the country varies state by state, and many states are withholding reports of how many tests they have conducted. A state official from Pennsylvania said the state could only test around one dozen people a day, while California stopped reporting altogether on how many people they had tested.
The Atlantic’s investigation found that data reported by the CDC has been “slow and incomplete.” Last Saturday, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Stephen Hahn, said that 5,861 specimens had been tested for COVID-19 throughout the week. However, it takes about two specimens to gain results from a patient, which lowers the amount of people tested to only around 2,900 that entire week.
According to former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, a tally showed that the United States can test a maximum of 7,840 people per day. By this time in the outbreak, the United Kingdom was testing around 15,000 people every day, and South Korea had tested more than 100,000 for COVID-19, according to reports.
As noted in The Atlantic, the U.S. has restrictive testing policies in place, focusing heavily on travel outside of the country. If a patient presents with flu-like symptoms but has not recently traveled out of the country, they may be refused a test for the coronavirus. Such instances continue to happen across the nation, as sick men and women are diagnosed with the flu or pneumonia and told to go home and rest, but are not offered a test to rule out the coronavirus, and the outcome could be dangerous.