Many Americans live in places with no coronavirus test sites
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
More than half of U.S. counties don’t have a single coronavirus testing site, according to a recent report by Castlight, a health software company.
Why it matters: That leaves a wide swath of the country — particularly rural areas — vulnerable to undetected coronavirus outbreaks, especially as lockdown measures ease. Asking people to travel long distances to get a coronavirus test is both unrealistic and potentially dangerous.
By the numbers: 54% of all counties don’t have a testing site.
- Among counties with 50,000 or more people, 38% don’t have any testing sites.
- Among rural counties with fewer than 10,000 residents, 68% don’t have any.
- And even among counties that do have testing sites, 58% don’t have the capacity to meet minimum recommended testing levels, which Castlight defined as 1% of their population every week.
In Texas, for example, big cities have enough testing capacity to meet Castlight's thresholds, but there's a cluster of 26 counties — and 315,000 residents — in the middle of the state with no testing access.
The big picture: Commitment from retailers like CVS, Walgreens and Walmart to open new testing sites could help close some of these gaps.
- CVS recently announced that it plans to have opened up to 1,000 self-swab testing sites around the country by the end of May.
- These sites will primarily be located at pharmacies with drive-through capabilities, although in a handful of cases, the company is establishing parking lot test sites.
The bottom line: There’s no geographic barrier that prevents the coronavirus from spreading to counties without the ability to test for it, especially in states that are reopening while their caseloads are still high.