WASHINGTON — The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. will “dramatically increase” in coming days as authorities work through a backlog of tests, a top official on the White House task force warned Wednesday.
After weeks of delays, the Trump administration has expanded testing with the help of private labs who are now able to run “tens of thousands of tests” every day, Dr. Deborah Birx said at a White House briefing.
“There was a backlog, there were individuals who had been tested who hadn’t had their specimen run because of the slow throughput. It’s now in a high-speed platform,” she said of the new tests.
Previously, health officials were only able to run “between four and 12 tests per platform per day,” Birx said.
“So we will see the number of people diagnosed dramatically increase over the next four to five days,” she warned.
So far, there have been 97 deaths from the virus in the U.S., while another 7,038 have been infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In New York, the number of cases is exploding — Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday confirming there were 2,382 people who had tested positive for COVID-19.
“I know some of you will use that to raise an alarm that we are worse than Italy, because of our slope of our curve,” Birx told reporters.
“To every American out there, it will be five to six days worth of tests, being run in 24 to 48 hours. So our curves will not be stable until sometime next week,” she said.
Americans have been repeatedly warned to stay at home and practice social distancing to help “flatten the curve,” meaning slowing the number of confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus.