Viral tests are taken with a nasal swab or saliva sample and look for direct evidence that someone currently has Covid-19. In contrast, antibody tests use blood samples to look for biological signals that a person has been exposed to the virus in the past.
“Public health officials need to know how many people in my country or my community currently have Covid-19. They also need to know how many people have had it in the past and are potentially immune to it,” said Elizabeth Cohen, a senior physician. by CNN correspondent. “These are two completely different things.”
Texas, Virginia and Vermont said they recognized the data issue and moved to fix it in the past few days. In Georgia, health officials said they were adding both tests to their April daily data in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention̵
The data from the American tests “look fucked up”, experts say
The test is currently not accurate enough to be used to make most decisions about who should return to work or school, the University of Minnesota team said.
“Externally, it’s a mess,” said Mike Osterholm, head of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy, which released the report. “Testing is very, very important, but we’re not doing the right testing.”
The number of tests that have been completed – figures widely reported by states and the White House – show only part of the picture, the report said.
“The data is really fucked up,” Osterholm said. “This is because the public health system is overloaded.”
States are opening public spaces at their own pace
As of Wednesday, all 50 states were at least partially open.
The governors of Alaska and Iowa said their states were ready to open most businesses on Friday.
In Alaska, this means that all houses of worship, libraries, museums and sports activities can be resumed at 8:00 a.m., Gov. Mike Dunley’s office said. Alaska has the fewest cases of all states and reports new single-digit new cases from mid-April.
Alaska is still encouraged to take precautions, such as distancing itself and wearing masks in crowds, and visits to prisons and senior centers will be limited.
Kiev Reynolds intends to allow cinemas, zoos, aquariums, museums and wedding venues to reopen on Friday, she said. The pools will also be open for tours and lessons. The bars could reopen on May 28th, and school-sponsored activities, such as sports, could resume on June 1st, she said.
Indiana also plans to move forward by opening much of its economy on Friday, but with restrictions such as limiting social events to 100 people and dining to 50% capacity and skipping contact games from the list of sports allowed to resume.
New York, California and Pennsylvania are among the states that allow local areas to report a decline in new cases to reopen.
More than half of all counties in California are moving forward with plans to reopen their economies, despite data showing the state registered 102 deaths on Tuesday, its second-highest coronavirus death. The last time California reported the highest mortality in a day was 115 on April 21.
Experts warn that removing the restrictions is premature could mean that thousands of Americans will die in a second jump in cases.
More deaths could be prevented, the report said
If the United States had encouraged people to stay home and set social distancing policies just a week earlier, more than half of deaths and infections could have been prevented, according to a new study from Columbia University.
If the United States had blocked the country two weeks earlier, 84 percent of deaths and 82 percent of deaths could have been prevented, said the research team led by epidemiologist Jeffrey Shaman.
“Our findings underscore the importance of early intervention and aggressive response in controlling the Covid-19 pandemic,” they wrote in a report posted online on the MedRxiv prepress server. The results have not been reviewed by other experts for accuracy.
The first case in the United States was reported in late January. It was not until mid-March that the Trump administration called on Americans to avoid groups and restrict travel. That’s when cities like New York started closing schools. The study used epidemiological modeling to measure the rate of transmission from March 15 to May 3 and to determine the impact that social distancing may have on disease transmission.
The first days were important, they noted. “During the initial growth of a pandemic, infections increase exponentially. As a result, early intervention and rapid response are critical,” they wrote.
However, they said it was true that they could not figure out how people would react.
“Public compliance with social distancing rules may also lag behind due to suboptimal awareness of the risk of infection,” they note.
Eric Levenson, Ed Lavender, Ashley Killow, Jen Christensen, Maggie Fox, Jamie Lynch and Rebecca Ries contributed to this report.