Most states not testing enough to safely reopen, analysis suggests

Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia are still doing too little testing to consider lifting stay-at-home restrictions after May 1, an analysis conducted by researchers from Cambridge-Mass.-based Harvard Global Health Institute and STAT News shows.

STAT News asked Harvard researchers to calculate the number of tests each state would have to be conducting by May 1 to identify the highest number of people infected. STAT then compared those numbers to the total number of tests each state was conducting daily in an average week in mid-April, as collected by the COVID Tracking Project.

They found that only 19 states were doing enough testing to consider reopening. Ten states would need to increase their daily testing numbers by at least 10,000 to do so by May 1, including New York, which would have to perform 130,000 to 155,000 tests daily, and New Jersey, which would need to conduct 75,000 to 90,000.

New York has been averaging about 20,000 tests and New Jersey 7,000 per day since mid-April, STAT reports.

Other hard-hit states, such as Massachusetts and Illinois, will need to be performing about 30,000 to 35,000 per day by May 1. They are currently conducting a little less than 7,000 daily tests.

States that already are considering easing restrictions are of particular concern, STAT reports. For example, Georgia, which is averaging 4,000 tests per day, must ramp up to 9,600 to 10,000 tests per day before restrictions can be safely lifted.

States less hard-hit by the pandemic will need to perform fewer cases. Alaska would need to perform only 68 to 145 tests per day, and Montana 31 to 156 tests per day before reopening.

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