It’s Friday, March 6. In today’s newsletter: Our science and technology reporters confirm just how few Americans have actually been tested for the coronavirus, despite administration promises. Plus: The moment that marked the rise of an extensive jihadist network in the United States.
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(GETTY / THE ATLANTIC)
Evidence That America Is Seriously Botching the Coronavirus Testing
By all public accounts, it’s one of the Trump administration’s biggest priorities: testing Americans for the new coronavirus.
Vice President Mike Pence, who is overseeing the White House’s response to COVID-19, vowed this week that “roughly 1.5 million tests” would be made available.
That’s not going as planned—far from it. As my colleagues Robinson Meyer and Alexis Madrigal report after interviews with dozens of public-health officials and a survey of local data from across the country, just 1,895 Americans have been tested for the virus as of this morning (that Rob and Alexis could verify).
“I don’t know what went wrong,” a former CDC chief told them.
The United States’ response to the coronavirus is far behind the spread of the disease within its borders. Testing is the first and most important tool in understanding the epidemiology of a disease outbreak. In the United States, a series of failures has combined with the decentralized nature of our health-care system to handicap the nation’s ability to see the severity of the outbreak in hard numbers.
The American response to coronavirus stands in stark contrast to other countries dealing with the outbreak: South Korean officials, for instance, have been testing more than 10,000 people per day.