Coronavirus testing burden continues in U.S. despite private labs

The entry of commercial lab companies Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings and Quest Diagnostics Inc to help identify cases of the new coronavirus does not seem to be easing the burden of testing in the United States.

Boosting testing capacity is crucial to assessing the scope of the U.S. outbreak and identifying where it is spreading most rapidly.

There are currently more than 1,300 documented cases of coronavirus in the country, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, but experts say the actual number may be much higher because of the scarcity of diagnostic tests. There have been at least 38 documented deaths so far.

Last Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump said that “anyone who wants a test, gets a test.”

Nearly a week later, the ramp up appears much slower due to regulatory hurdles, as well as logistical and technical challenges, according to healthcare providers, public health officials and test makers.

LabCorp and Quest said they now have the capacity to conduct thousands of tests per day and that they have already begun testing individuals for the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, COVID-19. But patients, doctors and government officials say there is still a shortage.

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