Coronavirus and the States: Several States Increase Testing; Wisconsin Governor Delays Primary

By: - April 6, 2020 12:00 am

Firefighters wait for drivers to pull up to a COVID-19 testing center in Hayward, California. The test is free to the public, no matter where they live or their immigration status. Ben Margot / The Associated Press

Read Stateline coverage of the latest state action on coronavirus.

California, which recently had a backlog of 65,000 tests, is attempting to deploy five times more tests each day, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat. The state’s testing task force will create five to seven high-capacity testing hubs in order to speed the process. Although most of the state’s backlog has been cleared, Newsom accepted blame for the long wait times and said testing has been “frustrating” and “challenging.”

Meanwhile, more mobile testing sites are opening in Los Angeles County. CVS Health is opening drive-thru sites in Georgia and Rhode Island, offering real-time results. Kentucky, too, has upped its capacity, partnering with a company to offer 2,000 more tests per day. As Florida’s case totals have grown rapidly, the state has tested more than 100,000 residents, second only to New York.

The testing approach still varies widely by state. In Ohio, officials plan to start testing randomly in an effort to model how much of the asymptomatic population has COVID-19. Inequalities still persist: In Philadelphia, for example, high-income residents have gotten tested at a rate six times higher than low-income residents.

Serology testing, which identifies antibodies in the blood and shows who has had the virus and acquired immunity, is drawing increasing attention. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently started conducting antibody testing, looking to find people in hotspots who were never diagnosed. The CDC’s future efforts will survey people from around the country, with another survey focused on health care workers and other special populations.

One laboratory organization is warning that the market is flooded with “crappy” and inaccurate antibody tests, which might falsely lead people to believe they are immune. 

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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.