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Testing For COVID-19 Should Be Priority, Says World Health Organization

The United States has officially declared a National State of Emergency over the coronavirus pandemic. A major part of this declaration entails that the U.S. makes testing for COVID-19 more accessible and more frequent for those exhibiting even the slightest of symptoms. However, the country is still struggling to ramp up basic testing for the virus, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has emphasized that social-distancing is not going to be enough to contain the spreading of this virus. 

“These measures [social distancing] can slow transmission and allow health care systems to better cope, but they are not enough to extinguish this pandemic. What’s needed is a comprehensive approach, but we have not seen an urgent-enough escalation in testing, isolation and contact tracing, which is the backbone of the response. The most effective way to prevent infections and save lives is breaking the chains of transmission, and to do that, you must test and isolate,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (aka Dr. Tedros) said in a press release.

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Dr. Tedros also noted that the numbers of cases and deaths in China have begun decreasing since they’ve taken proper containment measures from the start. However, the numbers of cases and deaths in countries outside of China, including the US, have only continued to increase exponentially. 

While the US has taken containment measures such as social-distancing, closing schools/colleges/universities, canceling events, and having most work remotely, it’s still not enough. To put it numerically, other countries have already tested hundreds of thousands of patients since initial cases began appearing, the United States has only tested around 40,000 patients total; South Korea alone has been testing 20,000 people a day. 

President Trump along with many members of his Coronavirus Task Force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, have been appearing in a series of televised press conferences in which they announced plans to dramatically increase our countries testing capacity. A major part of this initiative includes partnerships with major private companies and chains, such as Walmart and Walgreen’s, to help distribute tests in a contained and efficient matter. 

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The United States is projecting to test up to 100,000 patients weekly with its new testing initiatives. However, many citizens aren’t confident in the administration’s ability to deliver on their promises considering the government has made many over exaggerations, and under-exaggerations, in terms of this virus before. Trump has made countless comparisons to the virus and the flu, meanwhile, all major sports leagues, restaurants, bars, and social gatherings have never been closed down for the flu before. 

Trump so far has also announced that Google was creating a website that would allow anyone to log in and determine if they should get tested or not. Once determined the website’s algorithm would help connect people to those who could set up testing facilities at local labs. 

According to reports, “so far, the US has detected over 4,200 cases in 49 states and the District of Columbia. This number is expected to be far lower than the actual number of cases due to the delayed and limited testing. There have been 74 reported deaths in the US. Worldwide, there are over 181,000 cases in at least 148 countries. More than 7,000 people have died.”

The Trump administration has only emphasized testing for those with noticeable symptoms who individually believe that they’re symptomatic enough to be ill. However, WHO recommends testing for all, even with minor symptoms who may have come in contact with others infected, as previously stated, we still aren’t aware of the severity of this pandemic in the US due to its long incubation period. Testing is being prioritized for those working in the healthcare industry and who are more susceptible to getting infected; those with preexisting conditions and those over the age of 65.