Story at a glance
- The analysis measured states on a federal government figure recommending states test at least 2percent of their populations per month, as well as a Harvard recommendation that the U.S. needs to test 500,000 people per day before easing coronavirus lockdowns.
- Only 10 states hit both marks, while 19 failed both.
- Health officials say widespread testing is needed to contain the virus and safely reopen the country.
While the majority of states across the country are starting to loosen coronavirus restrictions meant to stop the spread of the outbreak, most states are not meeting some basic testing standards experts say are needed to contain the virus, according to an analysis from the Associated Press (AP).
The AP analysis published Saturday measured states on two criteria: a federal government figure recommending states should be testing at least 2 percent of their populations per month, and a figure from Harvard researchers, who say the U.S. needs to be testing about 500,000 people per day overall before rolling back lockdowns. That figure can be translated to each state based on their population.
The analysis found only 10 states hit both marks, while 19 failed both.
All 19 states that failed both testing metrics are beginning to reopen or ease some lockdown measures. They include Georgia, Florida, California, Nevada, Colorado, Washington, Louisiana and others.
Georgia was one of the first to announce plans to reopen, ending shelter-in-place orders on April 30 and allowing businesses like salons and theaters to reopen.
The 10 states that meet both the federal and Harvard testing minimums are North Dakota, New Mexico, Alaska, West Virginia, Utah, Idaho, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas and Delaware.
Meanwhile, 32 states are not meeting the federal government’s 2 percent target, while 18 states are, and 23 states are meeting the Harvard recommendations, while 27 are not.
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Some states only meet one of the standards, but not both. For example, Rhode Island meets the 2 percent federal testing rate, but falls short in the Harvard metric for adequate testing.
Health officials have warned that reopening states too quickly before proper containment measures are in place, such as testing, isolation and contact tracing, can further exacerbate the outbreak.
The federal government has not issued definitive standards for testing and has left it up to states to decide when it’s safe to reopen. Senior officials during a recent briefing said states should be testing at least 2.6 percent of their populations per month, however, that number was later changed to 2 percent, according to the AP.
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