The reason U.S. COVID-19 numbers aren’t higher? Not enough tests
“We do not need to go get tested, do we?”
As Alexa Malloy, a high school English teacher in Livermore, California, heard more about something called novel coronavirus in late February, she emailed her doctor to ask whether that specific illness could have given her a fever of 103 degrees and a cough so loud and powerful she couldn’t catch her breath.
“People look at you like you’re a criminal when you cough like that,” said Malloy, 56.
In the U.S., officials have identified 1,215 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, in 42 states, especially in Washington state and California, as well as the District of Columbia to a lesser degree. According to the latest available CDC estimates, 36 people have died from the virus in the U.S. But, public health experts say the only reason why those numbers have not exploded is that the nation has far too few diagnostic test kits. Lagging inventory has slowed testing. That means people simply don’t have them where and when they need them.