Tests results are taking too long. Six states tired of waiting band together

Months into the covid-19 pandemic the reported average turnaround time for the results of SARS-CoV-2 tests has not improved since April. Individuals are reporting waiting an average of four days to receive test results. Delayed results are consequential to any reopening plan that relies on testing, as patients are at risk of contracting the virus in the time between test and result, potentially nullifying test results. For months, public health experts have been advocating for large-scale access to rapid covid-19 testing in order to successfully control the spread of this disease. Despite these calls, the federal government has failed to roll out such any such plan. 

Now, six governors from both sides of the aisle have taken the issue into their own hands. Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio and Virginia have worked together to secure access to 3 million tests from the manufacturers of rapid tests. These six states have collectively performed just over 100,000 tests to date and the newly acquired rapid tests will last approximately a month at the current rate of usage. 

While well intentioned, rapid tests are also fraught with high false negatives, making the plan slightly less airtight. The tests are reported to have false negative rates of up to 15-20 percent. Ultimately, it is not clear if these rapid false negatives will undermine the intention behind speeding up testing turnaround times. New York Times.

Policy Section Founder

The medical liability protection update: Congress still mulling it over

As hospitals were overwhelmed during the height of the pandemic, many stakeholders wondered if medical providers would be held to normal legal standards of care given the uncertainty and stress of caring for covid-19 patients. While the topic of employer liability protections has been quite visible, with the latest Senate-authored stimulus package granting broad immunity, a quieter struggle has been waged between the medical community and a coalition of trial lawyers over H.R. 7059, the Coronavirus Provider Protection Act. Introduced by Phil Roe (R-TN) and Lou Correa (D-CA), a new bill aims to protect medical providers from frivolous and unfair lawsuits derived from direct care related to the novel coronavirus, and has received bipartisan support. While opposing groups have expressed concern that the wording of the bill is overly broad, possibly creating unnecessary protections for insurance providers and healthcare providers who create an unsafe work environment, a group of 130 medical organizations, led by the American Medical Association (AMA), argues that this is not the case. In a letter to Congressional leaders and in their advocacy efforts, these organizations argue that protections enacted by this legislation would be limited to situations where decisions are dictated by external forces, such as supply shortages, delayed elective procedures and to providers acting in good faith. Harm done as a result of decisions like practicing outside of one's scope or gross negligence would not be subject to protections proposed by the bill. Various.

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