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Controversies over diagnostic testing have dominated US headlines about severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the novel coronavirus responsible for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Technical challenges with the first test developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) left the nation with minimal diagnostic capacity during the first few weeks of the epidemic. The CDC also initially limited access to testing to a narrow group of individuals with known exposure. The delayed discovery of a case of COVID-19 in California, followed quickly by evidence of community transmission in multiple states, revealed the shortcomings of this strategy. In the early stages, COVID-19 has spread beyond the nation’s ability to detect it.
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Corresponding Author: Joshua M. Sharfstein, MD, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 N Wolfe St, Room W1033F, Baltimore, MD 21205 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Published Online: March 9, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.3864
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Mello reported receiving grants from the Greenwall Foundation, a nonprofit foundation focused on bioethics. No other disclosures were reported.
Additional Information: Dr Sharfstein reported serving as Principal Deputy Commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration from March 2009 to January 2011.
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