COVID-19 tests severely underused in US, data shows

Millions of COVID-19 diagnostic tests are going unused despite the U.S. conducting more tests daily than at any other point in the pandemic, The Wall Street Journal reported. 

In October, 34 million COVID-19 were given in the U.S., although the country had the capacity to run 106 million, according to HHS data cited by the Journal

HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir, MD, said Nov. 9 that the government will not send rapid tests to eight states until the supplies they already have are used, the Journal reported. 

Inconsistencies in data collection and reporting systems are hurting efforts to contain the virus. Some states report the number of samples tested, while others report the number of people tested, which makes it hard to compare state positivity rates, the Journal reported. In some states, people who have tested positive once and  later get a followup test to see if they are still positive might be counted as two positive cases. In other states, a positive test and positive follow-up might only count as one positive case. 

While millions of tests are going unused, the U.S. last month again crossed the 5 percent positivity rate, the Journal reported. Public health officials say if the positivity rate is above 5 percent, not enough testing is being done to control outbreaks. As of Nov. 8, the country's positivity rate was 8 percent. 

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