Jul 26, 2020 - Health

Ex-CDC head: Total tests conducted is a "useless number" if results are delayed

Former CDC director Tom Frieden said on "Fox News Sunday" that the total number of coronavirus tests administered is "useless" if the results are delayed, and that a better metric is how many tests have been done that come back within 24 to 48 hours.

Why it matters: The Trump administration's testing coordinator Adm. Brett Giroir said Sunday that the average turnaround time for coronavirus test results in the U.S. is 4.27 days, and that this figure has increased because of massive demand.

  • This makes it difficult to trace and isolated infected people, a key practice for containing the spread of the virus that other countries like South Korea have mastered.
  • The U.S. has administered over 50 million coronavirus tests in total, but the virus has continued to spread at severe levels. There are over 4.1 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University.

What he's saying: "Everyone in this country should be able to know very easily what's the risk in my community and how well is my community doing bringing that risk down so I and my family can be safe."

  • "To do that, we need simple things like — not how many tests are being done, that's a useless number. How many tests are being done that come back within 24 and 48 hours? That's important."
  • "And we need to know things like of the cases diagnosed today, how many of them were isolated within 48 hours, 72 hours, because that's how you stop the chain of transmission."
  • "That's how other countries are getting a handle on the pandemic. And we can do that here also, but we need to be on the same page."

Go deeper: Why coronavirus contact tracing is failing

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