Vice President Mike Pence promised on Wednesday that “roughly 1.5 million tests” for the 2019 novel coronavirus would be available this week. However, an investigation by The Atlantic could only find evidence of fewer than 2,000 people being tested. By interviewing public health officials and surveying all local data available, the magazine could only verify that 1,895 people had been tested for the flu-like virus that has spread rapidly from Wuhan, China, and killed at least 14 Americans. About 10 percent of those tests reportedly came back positive. Many states had incomplete or no information on testing so The Atlantic said its number reflected “the best available portrait of the country’s testing capacity.” “The net effect... is that the country’s true capacity for testing has not been made clear to its residents,” it added. For days, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has refused to publish updated numbers of tests and positive cases, despite public anxiety and criticism from Congress.
In contrast, Italy, where 197 people have died, released updated figures on Friday that it had done 36,359 tests since the crisis began two weeks ago. The U.K. Department of Health said 20,000 people had been tested there, with 63 positive results. Australian authorities said on Wednesday they’d done 10,000 tests. The number of cases worldwide verged on 100,000 on Friday, the World Health Organization said.