Four months, three million confirmed infections and more than 130,000 deaths into the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., Americans confronted with a resurgence of COVID-19 are facing long lines at testing sites in the summer heat or are getting turned away.
Some sites are running out of kits, while labs are reporting shortages of materials and workers to process the swabs. People are going a week or more without receiving a diagnosis.
In Georgia, one of the states where cases are surging, officials are rushing to expand testing capacity as demand threatens to overwhelm six major sites around Atlanta, said DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond.
In New Orleans, people were turned away from a free testing site for a third consecutive day after it reached its daily allotment of tests. Health-care providers are running low on trays and chemicals needed to run machines used in the tests.
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego called the situation there “desperate” as residents have sat in sun-baked cars for up to 13 hours to get drive-thru testing. Robert Fenton, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said FEMA is doubling the testing supplies it plans to ship to Arizona.
Testing has been ramped up nationwide, reaching about 640,000 tests per day on average, up from around 518,000 two weeks ago, according to an Associated Press analysis. Newly confirmed infections per day in the U.S. are running at over 50,000, breaking records at practically every turn.
More testing tends to lead to more cases found. But in an alarming indicator, the percentage of tests coming back positive for the virus is on the rise across nearly the entire country, hitting almost 27 per cent in Arizona, 19 per cent in Florida and 17 per cent in South Carolina.
While the U.S. has conducted more tests than any other nation, it ranks in the middle of the pack in testing per capita, behind Russia, Spain and Australia, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Testing alone without adequate contact tracing and quarantine measures won’t control the spread, according to health experts. But they say delays in testing can lead to more infections by leaving people in the dark as to whether they need to isolate themselves.
What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada
As of 8:15 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada had 106,434 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 70,247 of the cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 8,777.
The federal government on Wednesday released a long-awaited “fiscal snapshot” that forecast nearly two million Canadians could be without jobs this year. The document details how the Trudeau Liberals see the COVID-19 pandemic dragging down the domestic economy and sending the deficit to a historic $343.2 billion.
Also on Wednesday, Canada’s public health agency released the latest figures in its modelling of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, showing the epidemic is on the same trajectory as it was at the end of June.
In Edmonton, the Misericordia Community Hospital is closing its doors to new patients and has cancelled all surgeries as an outbreak of COVID-19 continues to spread.
As of Wednesday morning, 20 patients and 15 staff members had tested positive. Three patients linked to the outbreak have died.
The hospital had previously cancelled day surgeries, restricted visitors and had begun testing of staff and patients.
Ontario, with the second-highest count for COVID-19, added 118 new cases on Wednesday, for a total of 36,178 — after reporting 112 new cases on Tuesday, when the province introduced new legislation to enable the extension of some pandemic emergency orders over the next year.
Quebec added 82 new cases Wednesday for a provincial total of 56,079.
Here’s what’s happening around the world
Worldwide, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has climbed past 12 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of global deaths stands at more than 548,000.
In the Americas, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said he is confident he will swiftly recover from the novel coronavirus thanks to treatment with hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug that has not been proven effective against the virus.
Bolsonaro, 65, said he tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday after months of downplaying its severity while deaths mounted rapidly inside the country.
The president told reporters he underwent a lung X-ray on Monday after experiencing fever, muscle aches and malaise. As of Tuesday, his fever had subsided, he said, and he attributed the improvement to hydroxychloroquine.
WATCH | Bolsonaro tests positive after downplaying risk of COVID-19:
In Europe, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday he took full responsibility for the government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, denying that he was trying to blame care workers for the spread of COVID-19.
In Spain, Catalonia’s regional authorities will on Wednesday decide to make it mandatory to wear masks regardless of people’s ability to maintain a safe distance, becoming the country’s first region to do so, Catalan regional leader Quim Torra said.
Serbian police fired tear gas at protesters after being pelted with flares and stones on Wednesday as thousands protested in front of the Belgrade parliament despite warnings that such gatherings could spread the disease.
Africa now has more than a half-million confirmed coronavirus cases. The continent-wide total is over 508,000, according to figures released Wednesday by the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The true number of cases among Africa’s 1.3 billion people is unknown as its 54 countries continue to face a serious shortage of testing materials for the virus.
Already COVID-19 has killed more people in Africa — 11,955 — than Ebola did in its deadliest outbreak from 2014 to 2016 in West Africa, the WHO said Wednesday.
In Asia-Pacific, authorities in Mumbai, one of the worst-affected Indian cities, are allowing people to get tested for COVID-19 without a doctor’s prescription. That’s in contrast to other major Indian cities where a prescription is required.
India has the world’s third-highest case count. On Wednesday it recorded 22,752 newly confirmed infections, increasing the total to 742,417. It also reported 482 new deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the toll to 20,642.
In Iran, the death toll from COVID-19 passed 12,000 on Wednesday, health ministry spokesperson Sima Sadat Lari said in a statement on state TV. The total number of infections in the country has reached 248,379, she said.
In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday said the country should slow down the return of its citizens from abroad, as Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, and surrounding regions began another partial lockdown to slow the spread of the virus.
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