BOISE, Idaho — As Gov. Brad Little said last week, testing has always been and continues to be at the crux of containing the coronavirus pandemic and making steps towards reopening the economy. Now, according to a Harvard study, Idaho is testing enough people that it can begin easing restrictions on May 1.
"There's an enormous expansion of testing, there's new testing methods that are being made available and we are looking at all options," the governor said last week.
The study conducted by Harvard Global Health Institute and STAT, the United States tested 1.6 million people last week, which is about half of what their formula says they should.
One of the study's researchers, Ashish Jha, pointed out that those numbers don't paint the whole picture of what's happening across the country.
"You can't just take the national number and scale it to states by their population. You have to base it on the size of the outbreak in a state," Jha said.
When basing it on the size of the outbreak, states like New York and California are way behind on testing while Idaho is in the range of tests needed. In New York, which is still the hardest-hit state in the country, the state is about 100,000 tests behind their 130,000 a day goal.
In the West, Wyoming only needs to test about 85 people a day to keep up.
These goals are based on a U.S. COVID-19 death toll forecast that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention uses. Assuming it takes two weeks from infection to death, and factor in a fatality rate of about 1%, then there should be 100 times more cases on May 1 than deaths on May 15.
The only way to identify those new cases would be testing ten times as many people because the World Health Organization said anything below a 10% positivity rate means a state isn't testing enough.
In Idaho, the Gem State would need to test 260 people a day to begin opening back up. California is about 100 times that amount.
Crush the Curve Idaho told KTVB that they are testing about 150 a day by themselves.
According to the Harvard study, Idaho is about 73 tests ahead of the state's testing gap, which isn't as good as Washington but is still better than California's gap.
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