COVID-19 testing numbers continue to lag in Georgia. It’s an issue being felt across the country that could impact when the nation is able to open back up.
Widespread testing is the best armor against fighting the coronavirus pandemic. That’s why health officials are working around the clock to answer the urgent call to open more drive-through centers.
Starting Thursday, Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale County Health Departments will open one at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers.
"We’ve planned these large test sites and they will be a very efficient and will now be able to provide the results in less than 48 hours," said Dr. Audrey Arona, the district health director and CEO of Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale County Health Departments.
Since March 17, the counties have tested 1,100 people. With the addition of the opening of the new Conyers site, health officials expect to test more than 1,000 people this week alone.
"There’s a lot of anxiety out there among people who are ill and they don’t know if they’re COVID-19 or not," said Arona said.
During a news conference Monday, Gov. Brian Kemp expressed frustration with the lack of testing.
“The status quo is unacceptable," he said. “We need to be firing on all cylinders in the days and weeks ahead.”
Across the country widespread rapid testing remains low. Johns Hopkins University reports nearly 3 million people have been tested in a country of about 328 million.
Testing may be crucial to fully reopening the country. A recent study from the American Enterprise Institute showed before the country is ready to reopen, a state needs to be able to at least test everyone who has symptoms. That's an estimated 750,000 tests per week.
By Tuesday evening, at least 61,000 tests have been given in Georgia out of a population of 10 million, according to the state health department.
Testing will now be extended to some asymptomatic patients who have been exposed to someone with the virus.
The United States will ramp up its testing with help from South Korea. Some experts say the country set a worldwide gold standard for how it handled the virus. South Korea managed the crisis without any lockdowns by mass testing and intensive contact tracing.
President Donald Trump requested South Korea send 600,000 Test kits to the U.S. to help curb America's outbreak.
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