Concerns of under testing for coronavirus pushes CDC to change requirements

Washington D.C.

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Congress is continuing to act on coronavirus by approving billions of dollars in emergency funding to try to combat its spread. 

But there’s still concern about how little testing doctors have been able to do on people with coronavirus symptoms. 

Lawmakers worry inadequate testing for coronavirus is fueling its spread.

“It is a failure of leadership in this administration to not have tests readily available,” said Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.).

Congressman Bera says the lack of accurate testing will likely lead to more outbreaks.

“South Korea’s testing 15 thousand people a day. This is the United States of America, we can get these tests out,” Rep. Bera said.

“Enough tests to test one million specimens…about 400,000 people,” according to Human and Health Services Secretary Alex Azar.

HHS Secretary Azar says the administration is working with the private sector to mass-produce more tests.

Earlier the CDC wouldn’t approve tests for patients unless they traveled to affected areas—or knowingly interacted with someone who had. 

But Wednesday concerns about under-testing pushed the CDC to change its requirements and now anyone with a doctor’s recommendation can be tested for the virus.

Still some lawmakers like Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Calif.) worry, all those new tests will overwhelm medical labs.

“We’re going to have a million kits by the end of the week, but the labs are disagreeing that they’re going to be able to test a million people, they’re going to be ready,” Rep. Jayapal said.

But House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy doesn’t share those concerns.

“I was always concerned about the level of testing,” he said. “We have other labs, national labs out there that CDC’s working with. The kits themselves, we’re catching up, building those more.”

Still, lawmakers say identifying the virus is only one part of stopping it’s spread.

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