March 10, 2020

New Day's John Berman asked HHS Secretary Alex Azar how many Americans have been tested for coronavirus.

"We don't know exactly how many, because of hundreds of thousands of our tests have gone out to private labs and hospitals that currently do not report in to CDC," he said. (Translation: There used to be some kind of tracking system here, but we fired all those people and now we're outsourcing the work to our buddies.)

"We're working with the CDC and those partners to get an IT reporting system up and running hopefully this week where we would be able to get that data to keep track of how many we're testing. We think we've got probably 10,000 a day could be getting tested by the end of the week, 20,000 a day according to a study that I've heard about. We've got 2.1 million tests available, 1.1 million have shipped. We actually have a surplus at the moment that are awaiting orders to be shipped."

"But you don't know, you honestly don't know? You don't know how many people have been tested?" an incredulous Berman asked.

"Well, because a private vendor shipped -- most of those 1.1 million that shipped were from a private vendor selling to their customers and those entities that used their tests do not have to report back to CDC. But we're trying to set up a reporting system where they would in effect do that," Azar said.

Wow. Just, wow.

"The Atlantic has made a bunch of calls to some of these organizations and they estimate about 4,300 people have been test. Does that seem ballpark accurate to you?" Berman asked.

"I wouldn't want to speculate. My hallmark here is, I'm going to tell you what I know and I'm going to tell you what we do not know." (He doesn't know much.)

"We're about leveling with the American people and being transparent. Right now I'm just telling you, when somebody sells a test kit to a private entity, right now we don't know when or if that's been used, but we are working with them to get that system set up."

So Berman asked about why is it that South Korea managed to start testing more than 10,000 people a day within a week of their first case, and why we're still not testing as many people as they are.

Blah blah blah, excuses, excuses, excuses. "At no time, at no time has a public health official who wanted to get an individual tested for novel coronavirus been unable to get them tested through the CDC's labs or other labs authorized by CDC early on."

Yeah, that's B.S. Many people reporting otherwise.

Berman still tries to pin the guy down. "Anecdotally, and there's an op-ed in the New York Times, is that some people are confused or having a hard time getting the test or it's taking some time. We'll see how this develops over the next few days. Italy just closed its borders today, it's on lockdown, a country of 60 million people. What's to keep the United States from becoming Italy? You said local clusters. Well, a few weeks ago in Italy this was locally clustered to the north. What's to keep the United States from becoming Italy?"

"Appropriate travel measures. We engage in immediate community mitigation efforts as we are seeing in Seattle, Santa Clara, and hopefully in New York," Azar said.

This isn't really what Berman's asking. Italy did not initially take the pandemic seriously, and by the time they did, the virus was out of control and causing war-like levels of stress on the country's hospitals. They're turning away heart attacks, strokes, and other emergency patients because they can't handle the load.

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