A coronavirus testing site.
David Goldman/AP Photo
Thirteen percent of Americans said they “definitely” or “probably” have had COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, according to a new Insider poll.
But only 9% of those people have actually been tested.
The figures get starker: An additional 20% said they “maybe” have had COVID-19. If you include them, a total of 5% of people with potential cases have been tested.
As tests remain in short supply, it’s difficult to safely reopen parts of the economy.
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The United States has ratcheted up its coronavirus testing capacity in recent weeks. But a new Insider poll finds that it still isn’t enough: The number of people who believe they may have had the virus well outpaces the number of people who were tested.
Of 1,099 people polled, 13% said they “definitely” or “probably” had COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. But only 9% of those people were tested.
An additional 20% of respondents said they “maybe” contracted the virus. Including those people, the poll found that a total of just 5% of respondents who suspected they had the virus have been tested.
In other words, 33% of people believe they may have been sickened by coronavirus — but just 5% of those people got tests.
The poll’s margin of error was 3%. Conducted April 28 through April 29, it asked: “Do you think you have had coronavirus?” It offered choices for “definitely yes,” “probably yes,” “maybe,” “probably no,” and “definitely no.” Respondents who answered “definitely yes,” “probably yes,” or “maybe” were asked whether they were tested.
By Thursday morning, the United States had tested just over six million people for COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University data, or less than 2% of the US population.
Claudio Furlan/LaPresse via AP
On April 22, President Donald Trump signed the latest pandemic relief bill, which will shore up testing capacities with an additional $25 billion. That money has yet to arrive, and tests are in short supply. The Trump administration has still not offered a comprehensive plan to distribute tests to the places they’re needed the most, leaving the matter to individual states.
The United States test roughly 150,000 people on a daily basis. Experts — among them Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — say that number is too small.
“We need to significantly ramp up not only the number of tests, but the capacity to perform them,” Fauci told Time. “So that you don’t have a situation where you have a test but it can’t be done because there isn’t a swab, or because there isn’t extraction media, or not the right vial.”
“I am not overly confident right now at all that we have what it takes to do that. We are doing better, and I think we are going to get there, but we are not there yet,” he added.
Without adequate testing capacities, Americans decide between personal and financial health
Mass testing is critical to reopening the economy. Without it, the country cannot get a granular picture of which areas have the most infections, and governments cannot refine their lockdown orders.
Even as Fauci and others say the country’s testing capacity is not up to the task, some states look to end their lockdowns.
Many businesses reopened in Oklahoma and Georgia last week. Trump said many states can reopen by May 1. Arkansas and Kentucky will reopen on May 11.
A spate of recent polls show that most Americans want to stay home, rather than return to work. Insider’s poll found that 76% want to extend lockdown measures for at least another two weeks.
One of those people, small-business owner Sandra Dickson, a licensed massage therapist in Oklahoma, told Business Insider she won’t even consider reopening until June — even as she’s been forced to choose between her personal and financial health.
“There is no social distancing with massage therapy,” she said.
SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn’t try to weigh its sample based on race or income. A total of 1,099 respondents were collected April 28-29, 2020, with a margin of error plus or minus 3 percentage points and a 95% confidence level.
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