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COVID-19 Test Results Get Faster, But Still Too Slow To Help Slow Disease Spread

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REVERE - AUGUST 11: People wait in the shade while in line to get Covid-19 tests at Revere High School in Revere, MA on Aug. 11, 2020. Governor Charlie Baker said Tuesday that the state is deeming 33 of the states 351 cities to be at moderate or high risk of the coronavirus. Four communities are at the highest level of risk, Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders said: Chelsea, Everett, Lynn, and Revere. (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

NPR, October 2020

People are getting the results of coronavirus tests in the U.S. faster than they were in the spring, but testing still takes far too long to help effective disease control measures such as contact tracing and quarantining, according to the results of a large national survey.

The survey, which is conducted monthly by a consortium of researchers from Northeastern, Northwestern, Harvard and Rutgers universities, also finds that Hispanics and African-Americans are waiting about a day longer than whites on average, underscoring yet another way the pandemic is hitting minorities harder.

The researchers also found that a disturbingly high proportion of those testing positive — almost half — are never contacted by a health worker to determine who they may have infected, a crucial step for preventing outbreaks.

“That is how you limit the spread of the disease and limit the number of people who have to socially isolate and avoid lockdowns,” says Dr. David Lazer of Northeastern University, who led the team conducting the survey. “The good news is there has been some improvement. The bad news is everything is still taking far too long.”

Continue reading at NPR.

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