Much has been written about the paucity of COVID-19 testing in Virginia. One place where the shortfall is most evident is in Bristol, a city bifurcated by the Virginia-Tennessee state line. On the Tennessee side of the border, anyone who wants a COVID-19 test can get one, reports the Roanoke Times. On the Virginia side, tests are reserved for the very ill and those who care for them.
In Tennessee, the health department has set up testing centers where people can come Saturday and Sunday to be tested if they are worried they have the disease. They do not have to be pre-screened.
In Virginia, testing centers require pre-screening and a doctor’s orders.
“We are scouring the country looking for equipment to help our institutions increase testing. We haven’t been successful because of a national shortage,” said Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Services Daniel Carey.
The lack of testing capacity will have severe real-time impact on Virginia’s economy. Governor Ralph Northam said in his Friday news conference that more widespread testing is needed before Virginia can relax its social-distancing restrictions.
“We need to be able to test, we need to be able to track and we need to be able to isolate individuals,” Northam said. “We have no national guidance on testing,” he said. “Every governor is having to establish our testing protocol and our supplies on our own. While that improves every day, we are not there yet.”
Question: How come Tennessee can do more testing than Virginia? It was dealing with the same national shortage as Virginia. What did Tennessee do to build its testing capacity that Virginia did not do? Is our situation different somehow? Or have Tennessee’s public officials just been more aggressive,, competent or far-sighted?
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