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As Coronavirus Surges, How Much Testing Does Your State Need To Subdue The Virus?

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As Coronavirus Surges, How Much Testing Does Your State Need To Subdue The Virus?

The coronavirus keeps spreading around the United States. New hot spots are emerging and heating up by the day. The death toll keeps mounting. So how can the U.S. beat back the relentless onslaught of this deadly virus?

Public health experts agree one powerful weapon is something that’s gotten a lot of attention, but apparently still needs a lot more: Testing.

A new analysis that researchers at Harvard conducted for NPR finds that more states have begun to do enough testing to keep their outbreaks from getting worse, but most are still falling short.

And, perhaps more importantly, a consortium of public health researchers including Harvard, finds only a handful are doing enough testing to effectively suppress the virus, that is, to bring new cases down to a low enough level to allow everyday life to return to some semblance of normalcy.

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"That’s what we all want — to get our lives back. But right now we’re losing to the virus," says Ashish Jha , who runs the Harvard Global Health Institute.

When NPR and Harvard first analyzed testing on a state-by-state basis May 7 , the nation was conducting about 250,000 tests every day, and according to the analysis, only nine states were doing enough testing to keep their outbreaks under control. Now, daily testing has doubled to about 500,000 nationally — and 18 states plus Washington D.C. are currently testing enough to keep their outbreaks from getting out of control. But the national totals are far below what the Harvard group says is needed to contain the current outbreaks — 1 million tests daily — and yet farther from a level that […]

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