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Fewer Americans Are Getting COVID-19 Tests

Our best coronavirus tracking tool is still underused.

THE ATLANTIC —

During the early stages of the pandemic, the big story in the United States was testing: The federal government’s initial failure to produce a working test and scale up its production meant that the country struggled for months to keep up with the virus’s spread. In May, the Harvard Global Health Institute estimated that the U.S. needed to perform 1 million tests a day to contain the outbreak by identifying cases before they spread, a mark we didn’t surpass until late September. After that, testing finally picked up speed: By late November, the seven-day daily-testing average had jumped to more than 1.8 million.

But lately, daily tests have plateaued. After nearly breaking the 2 million mark in mid-January, daily tests today remain stuck at about 1.8 million. The stall-out is a mix of good and bad news: Although more testing would give us a clearer view of the outbreak, lower testing numbers reflect a pandemic in retreat, as demand for testing tends to rise with the spread of the virus.

READ MORE AT THE ATLANTIC

PHOTO CREDIT: Prachatai

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