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The State of Coronavirus Testing in the US

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It’s difficult to know right now exactly how many people in the United States have been tested for Covid-19, but we do know that there are some big testing bottlenecks. The US Food and Drug Administration has issued clearances to manufacturers of testing machines that would allow for up to 100,000 tests per day, but at this point that might not be enough to outpace the spread of coronavirus.

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According to the Covid Tracking Project, completed tests have just surpassed 1 million in the US, though the same data show that the daily number of tests has plateaued. One thing is certain: the US is lagging in testing for the disease per capita. While President Donald Trump might boast that it took the US only eight days to surpass the number of tests that South Korea administered in eight weeks, he made the claim without including the proper context, like noting the disparity in population size between the two countries. Such claims can quickly mislead those seeking answers.

In the video above, WIRED senior writers Adam Rogers and Lauren Goode unpack what’s going on with Covid-19 tests: How the tests work and the biochemical ingredients that are required in order for them to be effective; how murky bureaucratic issues and equipment shortages are contributing to the delays; and what the next phase of coronavirus testing might look like.


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