Testing

States Search for Ways to Deal With COVID-19 Testing Backlogs

HELENA, Montana — States frustrated by private laboratories’ increasingly long turnarounds for COVID-19 test results are scrambling to find ways to salvage their testing programs.

Montana said Wednesday that it is dropping Quest Diagnostics, one of the nation’s largest diagnostic testing companies. The Secaucus, New Jersey-based company had done all the state’s surveillance COVID-19 testing — drive-thru testing that moves from community to community to help track COVID’s spread. But it told state officials last week that it was at capacity and would be unable to accommodate more tests for two or three weeks.

“We don’t want to be left high and dry again in the event that the national demand for testing puts a state like ours onto the back burner,” Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock said.

Instead, he said, the state is enlisting Montana State University’s lab to process up to 500 tests a day and has finalized a

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As Cases Spike, California Pauses Multimillion-Dollar Testing Expansion

In April, Gov. Gavin Newsom launched a multimillion-dollar state initiative to bring COVID-19 testing to the people and places with the least access: rural towns and disadvantaged inner-city neighborhoods.

California is now halting its expansion, citing costs, even as the state is getting walloped by record-setting spikes in new infections and double-digit increases in hospitalizations.

The state will no longer fund new testing sites despite pleas from counties for additional assistance — and it has closed some locations and moved them elsewhere. It also has threatened to pull testing out of underused sites, according to nearly two dozen interviews with county public health officials.

While it’s early, some winners and losers have emerged: El Dorado County, east of Sacramento, lost its testing site in the town of Shingle Springs in June

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Trump’s Take On COVID Testing Misses Public Health Realities

President Donald Trump sought to downplay the numbers associated with COVID-19 in the United States — which have passed 2 million confirmed cases and are nearing 120,000 lives lost — by arguing that the soaring national count was simply the result of superior testing.

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Tennessee’s Secret To Plentiful Coronavirus Testing? Picking Up The Tab

To reopen businesses and public spaces safely, experts say, states need to be testing and contact tracing on a massive scale. But only a handful of states are doing enough testing to stay on top of potential outbreaks, according to a state-by-state analysis published by NPR.

Among those, Tennessee stands out for its aggressive approach to testing. In Tennessee, anyone who wants a test can get one, and the state will pick up the tab. The guidance has evolved to “when in doubt, get a test,” and the state started paying for it in April.

It’s still rare for a community to encourage such broad symptom-free testing.

“In most places, you still need to show you have the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 to get a test,” research professor Sabrina Corlette of Georgetown University said. “It’s really patchwork.”

Ample testing, preferably including people who are not symptomatic,

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