Coronavirus and the States: NY Ramps Up Testing; Idaho Patients Wait for Days

By: - March 20, 2020 12:00 am

A person is taken on a stretcher into the United Memorial Medical Center after going through testing for COVID-19 in Houston. People were lined up in their cars in a drive-thru queue that stretched over 2 miles. States have varied in their abilities to handle the crush of testing needs. David J. Phillip/The Associated Press

Read Stateline coverage of the latest state action on coronavirus.

In New York, where positive tests discovered 2,300 new cases after testing 8,000 people in a day, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state’s testing is now at the level of South Korea or China.

California has upped its capacity as well, increasing its test numbers by 20% in one day. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said a shortage of specimen swabs is stalling further expansion.

Some states still lag in testing. Idaho patients are having to wait days for results, as samples are sent to labs in Washington or Colorado. One Idaho lab will now run only tests for patients who are hospitalized or deemed “high priority.”

West Virginia, the last state to report a coronavirus case, has tested only 224 people but has opened five new drive-thru testing sites.

In Maryland, the National Guard began setting up a testing site in the parking lot of FedEx Field, the home of the Washington Redskins professional football team, while a church in Alabama said it was conducting more than 1,000 tests at a drive-thru site in its parking lot. Retailers such as Walmart and Walgreens are working to host testing sites in their parking lots.

Many Native American health clinics have little testing capacity, with some reporting they’ve received fewer than a dozen tests from the federal government.

Vice President Mike Pence said tests now are available in all 50 states.

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Alex Brown
Alex Brown

Based in Seattle, Alex Brown covers environmental issues for Stateline. Prior to joining Stateline, Brown wrote for The Chronicle in Lewis County, Washington state.