U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Pedro Tenorio

We're building support across the country to get more and better testing for COVID-19, and to ramp up the ability to administer and track fast and accurate tests.

Our states, cities and medical professionals need comprehensive COVID-19 testing to respond to the pandemic. All the experts also agree that it is what we need for life to begin to return to normal. Yet federal response has fallen far short of this.

Drive-through testing location in Pennsylvania
Photo by Senior Airman Wilfredo Acosta
Why do we need comprehensive COVID-19 testing?

First of all, we need more and better testing right away so cities and health care workers can make informed and safe decisions to deal with the health crisis. That means that we need the capacity to test anyone with symptoms, with quick and reliable results, so we can save as many lives as possible and get resources where they are needed most. We also need to be able to test health care workers to protect them, their patients and the people they come in contact with.

Secondly, we need to act now to build up our capacity to test even more people. There is widespread consensus among public health experts that fast, accurate and widespread testing will be key to beginning to safely phase out social distancing and reengage in civic life. To begin to take those steps, we need to be able to test anyone who has been exposed, and we need to be able to test people for COVID-19 antibodies to know if they have already had the disease (perhaps without symptoms).

Testing at Kadena Air Base, Japan
Senior Airman Rhett Isbell and Airman 1st Class Mandy Foster, 18th Wing Public Affairs
Together, we can tackle this crisis

Too much of the U.S. response to COVID-19 to date has been piecemeal, on a state-by-state or county-by-county basis. The federal government exists in part for just such moments as this, when national coordination is the only way to tackle a crisis.

Adm. Brett Giror is the head of testing for the Trump administration. He has a medical and public health background and likely understands the scope of what is needed. But the Trump administration is also hearing about myriad competing public needs right now, and powerful voices, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce discouraging the administration from using its full federal authority. We need to make sure that the call for more and better testing is loud and persistent — through the media, elected officials and experts — so that Giroir has the public backing to push harder for what he needs.

Comprehensive COVID-19 testing is within reach

We are calling on Adm. Giroir, the new testing chief in the U.S., to work with federal agencies, states, public health and health care professionals to make a plan to get us more and better testing, and to quickly build the ability to administer and track fast and accurate tests for COVID-19. Specifically:

1. Expand testing capacity and expedite test processing.
Make sure that we have the tests we need to meet the immediate demand, and demand over the coming months. Those tests must be fast and accurate, and health care professionals must have everything they need to administer the tests. There also needs to be widely available serological tests for antibodies for anyone who believes they may have been infected. To achieve these ends:

• Use the Defense Production Act to dramatically increase the quantity of available tests and supplies.
The FDA must set a clear standard of quality for tests, and use their emergency authority to approve tests.
• Expand the number of private and public labs equipped to conduct tests, and expand drive- through testing and home testing options.
• Ensure ongoing testing capacity via comprehensive planning. Engage in planning and make purchasing commitments for adequate testing capacity now and for the future.

2. Set up a system to collect high quality data and identify small pockets of infection before they multiply into larger outbreaks.

Get involved

Call on Adm. Brett Giroir, the head of testing response in the U.S., to work with federal and state agencies and health experts to build up fast, accurate and comprehensive testing infrastructure.