Access To Coronavirus Testing Is Uneven As Communities Compete For Scarce Resources : Shots

Access To Coronavirus Testing Is Uneven As Communities Compete For Scarce Resources : Shots


A member of the AltaMed Health Services staff prepares to take a sample at a drive-through coronavirus testing site in Los Angeles.

Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

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Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A member of the AltaMed Health Services staff prepares to take a sample at a drive-through coronavirus testing site in Los Angeles.

Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Months into the spread of the novel coronavirus in the United States, widespread diagnostic testing still isn’t available. California offers a sobering view of the dysfunction blocking the way nationally.

It’s hard to overstate how uneven the access to critical test kits remains in the nation’s largest state. Even as some Southern California counties are opening drive-through sites to make testing available to any resident who wants it, a rural northern county is testing raw sewage to determine whether the coronavirus has infiltrated its communities.

County to county, city to city — even hospital to hospital within a city — testing capacity varies widely, as does the definition of who qualifies for testing.

Testing deserts, stemming from an overwhelmed supply chain and a disjointed public health system, have hit hardest in California’s rural north and in lower-income urban neighborhoods with concentrations of residents who already were struggling to get quality medical care, long before the pandemic.



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