Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) on Sunday called the national COVID-19 testing system a “complete disgrace” that is “practically useless.”
The governor levied the harsh criticism against the president after reports that President Donald Trump is battling increased funding for testing and tracking coronavirus cases.
Sources have told The Washington Post that the administration is trying to block billions of dollars in an upcoming coronavirus relief bill to help states carry out testing and tracing — and extra aid for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The national testing scene is a complete disgrace,” Polis told Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He complained of delays by national private labs, saying results typically take seven to nine days. That means they’re “almost useless from an epidemiological or even diagnostic perspective,” added Polis, who has mandated face masks in his state.
“Our country needs to get testing right. We’re trying to build that capacity in Colorado to process tests with [a] one- to two-day turnaround,” he said.
Colorado’s state lab is currently conducting up to 3,000 tests a day — and more with the help of in-state private lab partners, Polis said. Colorado has more than 40,000 cases of COVID-19, with some 1,600 deaths attributed to the disease.
The governor’s assessment of testing was supported Sunday by the director of the National Institutes of Health.
“The average test delay is too long,” Dr. Francis Collins said on “Meet the Press.” That “really undercuts the value of the testing because you do the testing to find out who’s carrying the virus — and then quickly get them isolated so they don’t spread it around.”
Trump has repeatedly insisted that everyone who wants a test can get one, but there are long waits to get tested, followed by result delays.
The president also has criticized testing, falsely claiming it “creates” more cases of COVID-19.
In pool testing, blood samples from up to individuals are combined and tested. If the test comes up negative, none of those tested have COVID-19. If the test is positive, each sample must be retested separately.
Currently, more than half of all states are failing to hit their testing targets, according to a New York Times report.
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