“This is part of an ongoing discussion that we’re having,” he said. “People are working overtime on that one.”
Hahn’s comments came as the American Clinical Laboratory Association reported that the number of samples commercial labs handle each day fell from 108,000 on April 5 to 75,000 by April 12. The group’s members, including commercial giants Quest and LabCorp, analyze about two-thirds of all coronavirus tests in the U.S.
“ACLA members have now eliminated testing backlogs, and have considerable capacity that is not being used,” ACLA President Julie Khani told POLITICO. “We stand ready to perform more testing and are in close communication with public health partners about ways we can support additional needs.”
The Department of Health of Human Services has also seen a downtick in the number of tests analyzed nationwide in recent days, a spokesperson said.
But the Association of Public Health Laboratories said its members, which have been analyzing a smaller portion of coronavirus tests, have not noticed a similar decrease in demand. The American Hospital Association said it is not aware of member hospitals conducting fewer tests, but added “it’s not something we have numbers on.”
Public health experts, including former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, have put forth several plans outlining how the U.S. could reopen, and all agree that the country needs to dramatically increase the number of Americans tested — in part by expanding who is eligible for screening.