Government agencies are warning that an outbreak of the coronavirus in the U.S. is possible as the first case of unknown origin was confirmed in California on Wednesday night.
The Trump administration has requested $2.5 billion in funding from Congress in order to bolster preparedness, including $1.2 billion for vaccine research and development. Leaders from both sides of the aisles are pushing for more as cases in the U.S. slowly climb.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the only body that can conduct testing for the virus. About a dozen state and local health departments can conduct the test, but the results still need to be confirmed by the CDC.
“Before we roll [the test] out to our local partners, we want to make sure that it is as good as possible,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during a press conference this week. “Developing a rapid test this quickly is hard … we are moving as quickly as possible to get that test closer to where the patients are, and I expect that to be available more locally within a week or two.”
The CDC is not billing for the test.
Less than 500 people in the U.S. have been tested for the virus – which President Trump said includes “testing everybody that we need to test.”
There are concerns that more people should be tested, though regulatory hurdles have prevented that from happening. The U.S. has struggled to develop an accurate test that can be more widely distributed to labs, while others believe the CDC’s guidelines for who needs to be tested should be expanded.
As of Thursday, there were more than 82,000 individual cases around the world – with at least 2,811 deaths.
The U.S. had at least 60 confirmed cases, including individuals who had been repatriated from affected areas.
According to the CDC, people who develop symptoms should contact their health care professional, who will work with their state's public health department and the CDC to determine whether a test needs to be administered.