‘We don’t know’ how many Americans have been tested for coronavirus: Azar

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Tuesday said his department did not know the number of Americans who have been tested for coronavirus.

“We don’t know exactly how many because of hundreds of thousands of our tests have gone out to private labs and hospitals that currently do not report in to CDC,” Azar said on CNN, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We’re working with the CDC and those partners to get an IT reporting system up and running hopefully this week where we would be able to get that data to keep track of how many we’re testing,” he said, adding that there are 2.1 million testing kits on hand and that over a million have been shipped.

“We actually have a surplus at the moment that are awaiting orders to be shipped,” Azar added.

The availability of testing kits has been among the most scrutinized aspects of the feds’ response to the coronavirus outbreak, leading to criticisms from state and local officials.

Trump administration officials have provided conflicting numbers about the testing kits that have been mailed to health-care providers.

Last week, Vice President Mike Pence – who is leading the government’s response to the outbreak — acknowledged that “we don’t have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward.”

But he said testing would be provided to those believed to have been exposed to COVID-19 or were showing symptoms.

Azar on Tuesday also was asked whether he would advise his elderly parents to go to a campaign rally.

“I would encourage any individual who is elderly or is medically fragile to think long and hard about going into any large gathering that would involve close quarter and potential spread,” he said.

“And if they do go, to take appropriate, personal hygiene protections. Don’t shake hands.”

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