The director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the US must immediately develop a testing strategy to find and isolate symptom-free coronavirus cases.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Dr Robert Redfield described a meeting he and Dr Deborah Birx, another member of the White House coronavirus task force, had with Utah Gov Gary Herbert over the weekend to discuss testing and mitigation efforts in the state.
On Wednesday, Utah reported its second-highest increase in new cases since the pandemic began and record hospitalizations for the fourth day in a row.
‘Now is the time to develop a testing strategy to maximize our ability to identify the silent epidemic of asymptomatic COVID-19 infections,’ Redfield tweeted.
It comes as the US set a record on Wednesday for the highest number of cases recorded in a single-day at 102,831.
Dr Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, tweeted on Wednesday that a national testing strategy is needed to identify asymptomatic COVID-19 cases. Pictured: Redfield speaks at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee reviewing coronavirus response efforts in Washington, DC, September 16
He made the comments after visiting Utah with Dr Deborah Birx over the weekend to discuss testing and mitigation efforts (above)
An expert tells DailyMail.com testing needs to be moved away from hospitals and clinics and into the community. Pictured: A healthcare workers performs a COVID-19 test on a man at a walk-in and drive-thru coronavirus testing site in Miami Beach, Florida, June 24
Dr Thomas Tsai, an assistant professor at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and a surgeon at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, says he doesn’t think it’s too late for a national testing strategy that could catch symptomatic cases – and that one has been in development for months.
‘What it looks like is a shift of public health,’ he told DailyMail.com.
‘It’s a more proactive role of testing, of moving testing from hospitals and clinics into the community and focusing on screening asymptomatic individuals to break the silent chain of transmission.’
Back in April, Redfield stated that it is not uncommon for asymptomatic coronavirus patients to transmit the virus.
At the time, he said this explained how cases continued to spread across the country even as strict social distancing measures were enacted.
In fact, Redfield said asymptomatic people can shed the virus up to 48 hours before any symptoms appear.
Previously, the CDC stated that as many as 25 percent of people with COVID-19 don’t have symptoms such as fever, coughing and shortness of breath.
The agency now estimates that around 40 percent of patients are asymptomatic.
On Wednesday, the US broke a record and, for the first time, reported more than 100,000 cases in a single day.
More than half of states are reporting more cases this week compared to last week and at least six states – Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio and Pennsylvania – recorded their highest single-day case counts,
Additionally, more than 52,000 people in the US are hospitalized, an increase of more than three-quarters compared to more than a month ago, according to The COVID Tracking Project.
‘It’s very concerning,’ said Tsai, of the rising number of cases and hospitalizations.
‘The national testing strategy is not sufficient in places with the pandemic spreading like wildfire. We need to institute other tools we know work – universal masking, physical distancing – and even dial up some of our bans on restaurants and bars.’
This week, Dr Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, highlighted the importance of wearing masks.
It came after the University of Washington’s Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluations model predicted that if 95 percent of Americans began wearing masks in public, the death toll would drop from now to March from the projected 510,000 to about 380,000.
If mask-wearers increased to just 85 percent, the model predicts that 96,000 lives could be saved.
‘What’s important here aren’t the precise numbers,’ Collins wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.
‘It’s the realization that, under any scenario, this pandemic is far from over, and, together, we have it within our power to shape what happens next.’
Tsai also echoed that the Americans have the power to change the cours eof the pandemic.
‘Even though it looks like the pandemic is becoming out of control again, none of this is written in stone,’ he said.
‘We get to control our own destiny here and the fate of the pandemic
‘That means enacting strategies that have been developed and staying vigilant not just wearing masks but in social gatherings at home and with neighbors in the community.’