Trump's health secretary says 'we don't know' how many Americans have been tested for coronavirus
- The US government doesn't know how many Americans have been tested for coronavirus.
- "We don't know exactly how many, because hundreds of thousands of our tests have gone out to private labs and hospitals that currently do not report in to CDC," Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday.
- The slow rollout of testing kits has been one of the most scrutinized aspects of the Trump administration's response to coronavirus, as other countries far outpace the US in screening people.
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Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Tuesday said the US government doesn't know how many Americans have been tested for coronavirus, as a lack of testing kits continues to hamper efforts to rapidly contain the virus' spread.
"We don't know exactly how many, because hundreds of thousands of our tests have gone out to private labs and hospitals that currently do not report in to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)," Azar told CNN.
"We're working with the CDC and those partners to get an IT reporting system up and running hopefully this week where we would be able to get that data to keep track of how many we're testing," Azar added.
Azar said there are 2.1 million testing kits currently available, and that over one million have been sent out.
The US has tested people at a far lower rate than other countries, in part because of issues with faulty testing kits sent out to state labs by the CDC.
The new coronavirus - which causes a disease known as COVID-19 - has led to at least 27 deaths in the US: 23 in Washington state, two in Florida, and two in California. The US has reported more than 760 cases, but public health experts have cautioned that the lack of testing kits makes it extremely difficult to know how many people are infected and the true number could be much higher.
The US had tested less than 4,400 people as of Monday afternoon, according to an analysis of local data from across the country by The Atlantic. Meanwhile, South Korea, which has a much smaller population than the US (51 million in South Korea; 329 million in the US), has tested roughly 200,000 people.
South Korea's top public health official on Monday told CNN, "We are hoping that we have passed the peak, taking the numbers into consideration, and cautiously expecting we have passed the peak."
The amount of testing has put South Korean government in a much better position to gauge the scale out the outbreak in its country, and in recent days it has witnessed a decline in new daily infections.
The novel coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has infected more than 116,000 people worldwide and over 4,000 have died.
CNN's @johnberman: "How many Americans have been tested at this point?"- New Day (@NewDay) March 10, 2020
HHS Sec. Azar: "We don't know exactly how many because of hundreds of thousands of our tests have gone out to private labs and hospitals that currently do not report into CDC." https://t.co/RjnNEEH7wd pic.twitter.com/xQo7pw9Zjl
Amazing! What South Korea is doing is really bending their #Covid19 epidemic curve. Only 131 new cases today, versus 909 on Feb. 29.- Helen Branswell (@HelenBranswell) March 10, 2020
It's not just China. This clearly can be done. https://t.co/sueAO9XLF7 pic.twitter.com/Bw7WX1s9nM
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