Red tape, together with insufficient medical supplies has caused the United States to fall behind on COVID-19 testing, according to reports from CNBC and the New York Post.
The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States has topped 140,000, according to the latest tally from the Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE).
As of Sunday night, the country had registered more than 142,000 confirmed cases, with 2,479 deaths, an interactive map from the CSSE showed.
New York State has the most cases, which have exceeded 59,000, according to the update.
With the situation in the U.S. getting worse, the country’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is facing heavy criticism from the public.
On Saturday, the CDC announced a domestic travel advisory and urged residents to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days. But some said the decision comes “four weeks late.”
A report from CNBC on Saturday said that testing is critical to identify and trace the potential contacts of the virus, but the technology is rudimentary, pointing out that the primary reason for the testing bottleneck in the U.S. is the red tape.
In the beginning of the outbreak, the CDC sent out test kits to public labs, but some kits were found to have quality issues. The checking and re-disbursing kits led to delays.
Also, the CDC only provided kits to public labs, leaving other types of labs including academic, clinical and commercial ones with no approved kits to meet the testing demand.
For a long time, the CDC has very strict standards for who is eligible for the test, which is widely blamed for limiting the ability to track the spread of the disease.
The guidelines by the CDC said only people who had fever or symptoms with cough or shortness of breath and had close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient could receive the test.
At the end of February, the CDC relaxed the rules on who is qualified for testing, however even today it is still unclear about who can get the test and who cannot.
“It is a local policy decision. Different medical systems have different policies,” said Dr. Alex Greninger, the assistant director of the University of Washington.
Even as the U.S. is trying to increase testing capacity, it is facing a huge challenge in the form of lacking basic supplies to conduct the tests.
According to the CNBC, the swabs, pipettes and reagents are running low in many states in the country.
On Friday, an article published by the New York Post also blames the CDC for underestimating the threat of the epidemic and slowing the early response to the deadly illness.