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Testing Capacity Will Determine Abilities Of States To Reopen

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The state of testing has been at the heart of the coronavirus challenge in the U.S. for weeks, and the ability to test is key for states to reopen.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

To start with, there needs to be a lot more testing. And there still are limits on who can get the tests. In some places, they are still reserved for the sickest, first responders and health care workers.

CHANG: The World Health Organization says that when less than 10% of tests come back positive, enough people are being tested.

KELLY: That is because a higher number than that indicates that lots of cases are going uncounted. The lower the percentage the better.

CHANG: The U.S. is not there yet. According to the CDC, about 18% of tests have been positive.

KELLY: Now, some states are doing better here than others. But even states that are beginning to reopen are not necessarily hitting the benchmark.

CHANG: Georgia, which plans to reopen some businesses Friday, has a 23% positive rate. In Massachusetts and New York, the positive rate is even higher - about 25% to 30%.

KELLY: All right. The White House says that states have the resources to test more. Many local officials disagree. They say there are not enough tests to go around.

CHANG: And until they have more tests, there is no way of knowing how many people are infected and whether it is safe to go out.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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