Study: Virginia one of the worst states in US for COVID-19 testing

Photo: CepheidNews / YouTube
Photo: CepheidNews / YouTube(WHSV)
Published: Apr. 29, 2020 at 4:40 PM EDT
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According to

, Virginia is one of the worst states in the country when it comes to testing for COVID-19.

According to the

, Virginia ranks 49th in the United States for tests administered per 1,000 people and ranks 14th in the share of tests positive for COVID-19.

That essentially means Virginia is near the top in the nation for positive cases per capita but near the bottom for tests administered per capita.

, 85,307 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Virginia with the results of the tests already back. Of those tests, more than 17 percent were positive for coronavirus, coming out to 14,328 lab-confirmed tests.

Governor Ralph Northam has continually said reopening the state is tied directly to testing for COVID-19, so the state is working to expand the number of tests that labs can process in a day.

In a briefing on Wednesday, the governor acknowledged that Virginia has faced challenges and that the state's percentage of positive tests is high.

He said the state had very limited testing capacity to start with, like almost all states across the country, and worked with what was available.

Due to the scenario faced at the start of the crisis, the Virginia Department of Health chose to focus the available testing on the highest priority patients, including people with severe cases, people exposed to directly confirmed cases, and health care workers.

That move was to preserve PPE at medical facilities rather than have it used on tests for more patients who may test negative.

It also means that Virginia's per capita positive rate is so high because Virginia focused for so long on the people most at risk and those with the worst symptoms.

But now, with more capacity of tests, PPE, and medical facilities available, more people can be tested, including high risk groups like people entering long-term care facilities and meat processing facility employees.

Gov. Northam said that Virginia received a shipment on Tuesday of 200,000 more test swabs from FEMA to help boost testing now.

So, with tests preserved at the start of the pandemic for high priority patients and a lot of people not tested at the start, including hundreds who have received clinical diagnoses for the virus without lab testing, doctors say it's likely that more positive tests will be coming in the near days and weeks for Virginia.

But, even with the rise in cases, hospitalization numbers have stabilized, because we can now test more people and not just those with the worst symptoms.

That's a big part of why elective procedures are being allowed to resume later this week.

Dr. Remley, who is heading up Gov. Northam's testing task force, says they're working to create a database of all the tests available in the state, including tests at Virginia's state lab, as well as at private and public hospitals and private labs, to maximize the use of available tests at all facilities.

In response to reports of some private labs having unused testing capacity, she said all of Virginia's hospitals are no longer relying on the Virginia state lab or private labs, but are instead using their own labs or other partner hospital labs.

The tests at the private labs will be included in the new database, those many of those labs, she said, require direct payment and don't accept insurance, which has caused some of the discrepancy.

Dr. Remley said more on the database will be discussed in Friday's briefing.

The top 10 states for testing include:

The worst states and U.S. territories for testing include:

The Kaiser Family Foundation

that focuses on national health issues.