Fuzzy test data hampers US public health response

How many Americans are infected by coronavirus? How many have been tested?

Nearly two months after the first known case of the respiratory disease was reported in the United States, and a day after the World Health Organization declared it as a pandemic, federal agencies remain short on answers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not respond to questions from USA TODAY on Thursday about the nation’s detection program, which has been plagued by a shortage of test kits, flawed science and dubious data.

Tracking the outbreak:US coronavirus map

There were 1,215 confirmed or presumptive positive cases of COVID-19, with 36 fatalities, in the United States as of Thursday, according to the CDC’s website. The agency is no longer issuing data on the number of tests taken.

Infectious disease experts, however, say the official tally is only a fraction of the reality, because it does not contain data from some states, and the lack of test kits has prevented diagnosis for thousands who may be ill.

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