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CDC Head: Years of Underfunding Are Impeding U.S. Government's Coronavirus Response

By David Jagielski - Mar 11, 2020 at 2:23PM

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Many people have criticized the the Centers for Disease Control for its inadequate response to the fast-spreading virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Congress this week that insufficient federal investment in public health has impaired its ability to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. An issue with faulty test kits further reduced the availability of health care works to test those showing symptoms, and made it harder to gauge the scale of the U.S. outbreak. Further, backlogs have meant that many of those people who were tested are enduring long waits to get their results back. 

"There's not enough equipment, there's not enough people, there's not enough internal capacity, there's no search capacity," said CDC Director Robert Redfield. However, federal, state, and local government agencies have been making efforts to increase the availability of tests.

The coronavirus is becoming a more serious threat by the day. The World Health Organization officially classified it as a pandemic on Wednesday. As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, the CDC said there were 938 people in the U.S. with COVID-19, and 29 who have died from it. The Johns Hopkins University dashboard that tracks data about the disease in real time reported 1,050 U.S. cases as of mid-afternoon Wednesday.

Doctor reviewing test results with patient.

Image source: Getty Images.

Companies are providing people with more testing options

Quest Diagnostics (DGX -3.36%) is a leading medical testing company, and it announced last week that it will start offering testing for COVID-19 as early as this week. The company believes it's in a good position to help the country get a handle on the outbreak. 

"Quest's national scale, diagnostic expertise and innovation, and relationships with half the country's physicians and health systems is a vital complement to the efforts of the CDC and other public health labs to contend with a growing number of suspected COVID-19 cases in the United States," said CEO and President Steve Rusckowski 

The healthcare company has generated more than $7 billion in sales in each of the past 10 years. 

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