Drop in daily COVID-19 tests conducted has US public health experts worried

The number of COVID-19 tests conducted in the U.S. per day has fallen in recent weeks, but public health experts told ABC News that testing is still critical to contain the spread of the virus. 

The daily average for tests conducted is just over 1 million as of mid-February, about a million less than a month ago, ABC News reported. The U.S. administered the highest amount of tests in 2021 on Jan. 15, with 2.2 million tests, but daily numbers have since declined. 

"It's incredibly counterintuitive for testing to be dropping in general, especially when we know that we're not past the point of feeling like the worst is behind us," Jessica Malaty Rivera, the science communications lead at the COVID Tracking Project told ABC News. "It's also frustrating that tests are being unused."

Some public health experts told ABC News that numbers may be falling because the same providers that give COVID-19 tests are now focused on giving vaccines.

"The same people who are doing the testing are often the same ones doing the vaccinations,” Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, a professor of epidemiology and medicine at Columbia University in New York City, told ABC News. "And the attention to some of the issues around supply may affect the focus turning to vaccines rather than tests."

Millions of COVID-19 tests distributed to states by the federal government have also gone unused

A Biden administration official told ABC News the federal government doesn't know precisely how many tests are sitting unused. 

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