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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Americans are once again waiting in long lines for coronavirus tests — sometimes being turned away — and then waiting several days for their test results, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: This makes it much harder to know who has the virus and thus stop its spread, especially as the holidays approach. The longer someone has to wait for test results, the less likely it is that they'll remain in isolation until they receive them.

The big picture: Demand for tests has risen along with the spike in cases around the country, and many communities are struggling to keep up.

  • "The demand is exploding across the board," Kevin Jaques, spokesperson for the Illinois State COVID-19 Testing Project, told the Post. "The labs we're working with have asked us to cap the number we do because they can't process them quickly enough anymore to meet the 72-hour turnaround."

The bottom line: Testing is an important tool, but only if it influences human behavior. That tool is becoming less useful just as the country seems to have reached new levels of pandemic fatigue.

Go deeper

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Germany to impose travel restrictions to curb spread of coronavirus variants

Border police officers check passports and COVID-19 tests at Frankfurt Airport. Photo: Thomas Lohnes via Getty Images

Germany announced Friday that it was imposing new travel restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of more contagious coronavirus variants.

Details: All non-German residents traveling from countries deemed "areas of variant concern," including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Portugal, Ireland, Brazil, Lesotho and Eswatini, will be banned from entering the country, even if they test negative for the coronavirus.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

Ex-CDC director Tom Frieden on the next COVID-19 vaccines

Americans fortunate enough to receive COVID vaccines now, outside of clinical trials, are getting shots made by either Pfizer or Moderna. But newly released data from Novavax and Johnson & Johnson suggests that more vaccines could be on the way, with J&J's requiring a single dose.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the news and why it matters with Tom Frieden, former head of the CDC, as COVID-19 variants spread globally.