President Donald Trump's decision to withhold testing for the coronavirus cost valuable time to contain the outbreak -- and now it's probably too late.
The president reportedly blocked widespread testing because he believed high numbers of infections would hurt him politically, and now experts believe at least half of Americans will eventually become infected, reported NPR.
“We’re so far behind this thing at this point, and the reason we’re so far behind is because we’ve had so little testing,” said Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.
The federal government missed an early opportunity to pull the private sector into the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak, and health authorities were forced to rely on problematic diagnostic tools for weeks where the virus might have been contained.
“This is such a rapidly moving infection that losing a few days is bad, and losing a couple of weeks is terrible,” Jha said. “Losing two months is close to disastrous, and that’s what we did.”
Widespread testing remains on the horizon, but medical experts fear the chance to contain the outbreak is long gone.
“Our concern is COVID-19 has been with us for at least six or eight weeks and we haven’t known about it," said Rod Hochman, chief executive officer of health system Providence St. Joseph Health in Washington state. "We lost valuable time. That’s something we are never going to get back, and right now we have to do the best with what we have.”