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900,000 daily COVID-19 tests needed to contain U.S. outbreak, Harvard experts say

900,000 daily COVID-19 tests needed to contain U.S. outbreak, Harvard experts say
A Harvard research group said Thursday its new models show that the United States should be doing 900,000 tests for COVID-19 on a daily basis.  File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI  | License Photo

May 7 (UPI) -- The United States should do 900,000 COVID-19 tests per day to contain its outbreak, Harvard experts said Thursday, more than triple the tests done daily in the past week.

The Harvard Global Health Institute said Thursday on Twitter its new models show need for the country to do 900,000 tests a day.

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NPR reported on a simulation that the Harvard research group published that estimates the amount of testing needed in individual states by May 15.

National Public Radio also used the nonprofit COVID Tracking Project to analyze how much testing was needed across the entire country compared to how much is being done.

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The United States has done nearly 248,000 tests daily, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

On April 27, the Trump administration said that the country would soon have the capacity for the testing rate to double, which at the current rate would mean doing 496,000 tests a day.

U.S. testing rates also remain below an earlier projection from the Harvard research group that between 500,000 and 600,000 daily tests were needed.

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Global Health Institute Director Ashish Jha said that the projection for the number of daily tests needed increased because the U.S. outbreak is worse than estimated earlier.

"Just in the last few weeks, all of the models have converged on many more people getting infected and many more people [dying]," he said.

For individual states, the research group estimated the amount of testing needed to test 10 contacts of infected people. Researchers also used the rate of tests that come back positive as a factor with the World Health Organization advising that a 10 percent or fewer positive rate indicates enough testing.

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The analysis found that several heavily impacted states are far from reaching minimum testing targets, including New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Other states phasing in reopening after social distancing restrictions closed businesses, including Georgia, Texas and Colorado, have also not met the testing target, it found.

Still, nine larger, less crowded states, have exceed the testing target, including Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

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Researchers cautioned that the projections are meant to be taken as a directional guide, not literally.

COVID-19 testing is part of "a much broader set of strategies and plans the states need to have in place," to contain spread of the coronavirus as they begin to reopen, Jha warned.

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