Indicators critical to understanding the pandemic’s course were often missing, it found. Not a single state currently reports the average turnaround time of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, as press reports abound of tests in many regions taking a week or more to come back, a delay that renders testing nearly useless in controlling the disease’s spread. The test positivity rate goes unreported by 25% of states.
Despite good work by many states and a “tsunami of data points,” he said, “because of the lack of national leadership, we don’t have common standards, definitions, targets, or accountability.”And we know who is responsible -- where the buck stops.
The US is “flying blind,” he said, questioning the current “obsession” with higher test numbers. If results are taking several days, if positive cases are rarely isolated, and if contacts are almost never warned, he said, then “we really have done very little good.”
The current number of cases in the United States exceeds the combined total in all of Europe, Africa, and Asia, said Frieden. He explained, “With 4% of the world’s population, we have one quarter of covid reported deaths. And during the 45 minutes of this briefing, more than 20 people will die from covid in the US and thousands more will become infected.”