Coronavirus testing needs to grow sharply in U.S., House panel is told

Speaking before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, leading public health physicians told lawmakers on May 13 that the United States must widen its coronavirus testing in order to safely reopen the economy.

Speaking before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, leading public health physicians told lawmakers on May 13 that the United States must widen its coronavirus testing in order to safely reopen the economy. Ashish Jha, MD, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said more than 6 million tests would need to be conducted every week to detect most of the people who have COVID-19. He said the U.S. government "should use all of its power to secure adequate testing supplies. It's about ensuring that the right people get the tests at the right time." Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, testified that the fight against the pandemic "most of all, is going to turn on testing." A reopening plan from the American Enterprise Institute, authored by Gottlieb, former FDA commissioner Mark McClellan, MD, PhD, and colleagues, emphasized that states can reopen businesses and schools "when they are able to safely diagnose, treat, and isolate COVID-19 cases and their contacts." Another plan presented to the House subcommittee from Harvard's Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics called for the country to be able to do 5 million tests a day, increasing to 20 million daily by July. Its report on the pandemic contends that such steps would allow the country to be largely back to normal business by August. The Safra Center report also recommended giving people a medical ID card that would provide their testing history for employers, schools, and social-services agencies.