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Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, Harvard Global Health Institute; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Most states still aren't doing enough coronavirus testing, especially those that have suffered from larger outbreaks, according to recent testing targets calculated by the Harvard Global Health Institute.

Between the lines: It's much harder to contain the virus once a lot of people have it — which is why we needed strong social distancing in the first place. But knowing who is infected is the foundation of containment going forward, and most states are still behind.

The big picture: Nationally, the U.S. needs to be doing about 900,000 tests a day, according to the Harvard estimate, which was released earlier this month.

  • But not all states need to be doing the same amount of tests. The goal Harvard suggested for each state — the number of tests they should have done on May 15 was calculated based on the size of its outbreak as of early May.
  • That means that New York needs to be doing a much larger number of tests each day than Wyoming, even after accounting for the states' huge population discrepancy.

Why it matters: Most states have already begun reopening to some extent, even without key public health tools — like testing and contact tracing — fully built up.

  • That increases the chance that the virus will spread undetected as people begin interacting with one another again.
  • And these premature measures may just increase the number of tests a state needs, especially because the estimates were based on the assumption states would remain closed until May 15.
  • “The moment you relax, the number of cases will start climbing. And therefore, the number of tests you need to keep your society, your state from having large outbreaks will also start climbing," Harvard's Ashish Jha warned.

Go deeper

Updated Oct 16, 2020 - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Note: Does not include probable deaths from New York City; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. surpassed 8 million coronavirus cases on Friday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: Coronavirus infections jumped by almost 17% over the past week as the number of new cases across the country increased in 38 states and Washington, D.C., according to a seven-day average tracked by Axios.

Updated Aug 29, 2020 - Health

University of Alabama reports 1,052 COVID-19 cases since in-person classes began

Photo: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The University of Alabama on Friday reported an additional 485 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among students, faculty and staff since in-person classes resumed on Aug. 19, bringing the total number cases up to 1,052, according to the university's coronavirus dashboard.

Why it matters: The outbreak underscores concerns from public health experts that in-person classes could cause community spread within school populations. The total reported on Friday does not include the 381 positive tests caught when students, faculty and staff first re-entered campus.

Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."