One in four Americans say there were unable to get a coronavirus test when they wanted to


About one quarter of Americans say they could not get a coronavirus test when they wanted, a new survey finds.

Conducted by STAT News and The Harris Poll, 24 percent of respondents said they were unable to get tested for COVID-19 for various reasons.

The most common reason was that the wait was too long, as specified by 10 percent of people surveyed.

Other reasons included not having a testing site nearby, not having transportation to get to a testing site and not knowing where to go to get a test.

Meanwhile, 31 percent said they were able to get tested when they wanted to and the remaining 55 percent reported never having a desire to get tested for COVID-19. 

A new poll found 24%  of respondents far left) said they were unable to get tested for COVID-19 for various reasons such as the line for testing being too long or not having a testing site nearby

Meanwhile, 31% said they were able to get tested when they wanted to and the remaining 55% reported never having a desire to get tested for COVID-19. Pictured: A woman is tested for coronavirus at a site in Winthrop, Massachusetts, October 2020

Meanwhile, 31% said they were able to get tested when they wanted to and the remaining 55% reported never having a desire to get tested for COVID-19. Pictured: A woman is tested for coronavirus at a site in Winthrop, Massachusetts, October 2020

‘This has been a bedeviling problem in the U.S. from the get-go,’ Dr Paul Sax, clinical director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, told STAT News

‘But it’s amazing that it’s still so difficult for some people to get tested. And it’s frustrating.’ 

For the survey, a total of 2,043 people were asked questions about coronavirus testing between February 5 and February 7. 

Overall, 24 percent said they wanted to get tested for COVID-19 but were unable to do so.

When asked for specific reasons, 10 percent said they could not get tested because the wait line was too long.

Eight percent each said there was no testing site near them or didn’t know how to get a test and seven percent said they did not have transportation to get to a testing site.

In addition, 31 percent said they were able to get tested when they wanted to and 55 percent said they never wanted to get tested. 

The inability to get tested is a problem that has plagued the United States since the early days of the pandemic.  

On February 6, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began distributing 200 of its test kits to 115 labs across the US as well as 191 international labs.

But the initial batch of tests turned out to be flawed. One of the reagents meant to react to the virus’s genetic material was botched, meaning that some results came back ‘inconclusive.’

The Food and Drug Administration also was also slow in approving tests to be manufactured by state labs as well as private companies.

This was coupled with the different types of tests providing varying reliability and results that took as long a week to return.

In total, 49 percent of the respondents said they had been tested for the virus at least once. 

The most common reason given for getting tested, which was cited by 28 percent of respondents, was coming in contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19.

About 24 percent said they had possible symptoms of the virus while 21 percent reported being required to get tested by their job or school.

Researchers say that one of the most interesting findings was the difference in answers by different ethnic groups in what is required to ‘get back to normal.’

The poll found that 45 percent of white respondents said mostly vaccinations are needed to return to normal, but only 32 percent of black respondents share this view.

Meanwhile, 29 percent of black people said testing is key for a sense of normalcy to return compared to just 17 percent of white people who said the same thing.

‘A lot of this has to do with what’s called vaccine hesitancy,’ Rob Jekielek, managing director at The Harris Poll, told STAT News.

‘It has to do with history in that community [of being mistreated by the health care establishment]. And so they have the lowest level of confidence in vaccines and the highest level of confidence in the value of testing.’



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