Testing Supply Failures

The early delays in devising coronavirus tests proved to be disastrous. Months into the crisis, shortages in testing capacity remain, severely impeding an effective response to the pandemic.

When President Donald Trump claimed in March that “Anybody that wants a test can get a test,” he was wrong. He was wrong again in May when he said, “If somebody wants to be tested right now, they’ll be able to be tested.” In July, long lines at testing centers and delayed results continued to paint a picture of a country seriously hampered in its ability to create an effective testing regime, one of the most important tools for combating the pandemic.

The failures began early, when tests created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention turned out to be faulty, resulting in lost time and work. Bureaucratic hurdles further delayed widespread testing, and narrow guidelines for who could get tested allowed the virus to circulate among those who were asymptomatic or who were experiencing symptoms they thought to be from a cold.

American Oversight’s investigation of these early and ongoing testing missteps includes requests for related communications and directives, and data on the number of people who had been tested at various times to determine whether the facts match what public officials had been saying. We’re also looking into how the federal government has coordinated with state public health agencies, including reportedly having told certain state medical officials to stop testing during the early months of the crisis.

Related Documents

May 15, 2020

Complaint: American Oversight v. CDC and HHS — FOIA Request Violations

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services
Agency Record
May 5, 2020

Complaint: American Oversight v. HHS, CMS, State, and Treas — Sent Communications Containing Terms Related to Coronavirus 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of State, Department of the Treasury
Litigation
March 18, 2020

FOIA to HHS Seeking Assessments of the Impact of Coronavirus Testing Limitation Decisions

Department of Health and Human Services
FOIA Request
March 18, 2020

FOIA to FDA Seeking Assessments of the Impact of Coronavirus Testing Limitation Decisions

Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration
FOIA Request
March 17, 2020

FOIA to CDC Seeking Communications with External Entities Involved in Coronavirus Testing

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services
FOIA Request
March 17, 2020

FOIA to HHS Seeking Communications with External Entities Involved in Coronavirus Testing

Department of Health and Human Services
FOIA Request
March 17, 2020

FOIA to Treasury Seeking Sent Communications Containing Terms Related to Coronavirus

Department of the Treasury
FOIA Request
March 17, 2020

FOIA to State Seeking Sent Communications Containing Terms Related to Coronavirus

Department of State
FOIA Request
March 17, 2020

FOIA to CMS Seeking Sent Communications Containing Terms Related to Coronavirus

Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services
FOIA Request
March 17, 2020

FOIA to CDC Seeking Sent Communications Containing Terms Related to Coronavirus

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services
FOIA Request
March 17, 2020

FOIA to HHS Seeking Sent Communications Containing Terms Related to Coronavirus

Department of Health and Human Services
FOIA Request
March 11, 2020

Rejection from the CDC Regarding How Many Individuals Have Been Tested for Coronavirus

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services
Agency Reply
March 11, 2020

Public Records Request to Washington State Health Department Seeking Directives Not to Test for Coronavirus

Washington State Department of Health
FOIA Request
March 11, 2020

Public Records Request to Washington State Health Department Seeking Communications with the White House, CDC, or HHS

Washington State Department of Health
FOIA Request
March 11, 2020

FOIL Request to NY Department of Health Seeking Communications with CDC and FDA Regarding Coronavirus Testing

New York State Department of Health
FOIA Request
March 11, 2020

FOIL Request to NY Governor’s Office Seeking Communications with CDC and FDA Regarding Coronavirus Testing

New York Office of the Governor
FOIA Request
March 9, 2020

FOIA to State Seeking Report on Coronavirus Disinformation

Department of State
FOIA Request
March 9, 2020

FOIA to State Seeking Emails and Other Evidence Concerning Coronavirus Disinformation

Department of State
FOIA Request
March 9, 2020

FOIA to State Seeking Evidence Concerning Coronavirus Disinformation Provided to Social Media Companies

Department of State
FOIA Request
March 5, 2020

FOIA to CDC Seeking Records Reflecting Data on the Numbers of Individuals Tested for Coronavirus

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
FOIA Request
March 5, 2020

FOIA to Multiple Agencies Seeking All Records Reflecting Decisions Regarding Testing for Coronavirus

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health
FOIA Request
March 5, 2020

FOIA to Multiple Agencies Seeking Directives Regarding Testing for Coronavirus

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health
FOIA Request