Health officials have expressed their concern over the removal of the mask mandate in some of the states such as Texas and Mississippi. However, that doesn’t seem to be the only cause for concern. Authorities have noticed a decrease in the number of Covid 19 tests that have been taken. This seems to be in coordination with the increase in the number of vaccinations taking place.
Covid 19 Testing Has Decreased With Increasing Vaccination
Though the slump in testing cases may be a result of lower infection rates, it also signifies that many Americans have become complacent or even less cautious as we continue into the second year of the Covid 19 virus.
Testing is a necessary part of Covid 19 safety control efforts along with wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands regularly, and avoiding large crowds or mass gatherings. Officials assure the public that getting inoculated is an effective way to combat the virus. However, there warn that individuals should be careful and vigilant to contain the spread of the Coronavirus.
Mary K. Hayden, a professor of internal medicine and pathology at Rush Medical College based in Chicago states that many people are fed up with the pandemic. In January, testing levels average at about 1.9 million each day as reported by laboratories and testing sites.
In February, tests reported were 1.5 million whereas in March the number of tests that were reported dropped even further to 1.3 million as per the Covid Tracking Project. Hayden declares that at no point did the level of tests reported reach the “adequate or optimal” level that medical officials were hoping for.
Hayden, who works as a fellow of the Infectious Disease Society of America explains that they never reached the hoped-for level and now the testing levels are dropping significantly. The cause for concern arises because as the testing levels drop, people tend to stop practicing social distancing which can lead to a resurgence in Covid cases.
The current situation has occurred previously. In the summer of the last year, many Southern states reported a decline in the number of tests. Co-ordinately, cases seemed to increase at an alarming speed. Though the daily cases are more now as compared to the summer of last year, people are more hesitant to be tested for symptoms of the Coronavirus.
Fewer people may be experiencing symptoms of the virus and thus do not deem it important to go for the Coronavirus test. This is a stark contrast to the early stages of the pandemic. At that point in time, people would get tested if they showed mild symptoms of the virus or even if they didn’t portray any symptoms at all.
Another possible reason for the decline in testing levels could authorities focus on vaccinating as many people as possible. Several testing sites have been refurbished into vaccination sires from the public as now the vaccine has taken precedence.
Officials worry that as prioritizing testing decreases states will not know where they stand in terms of the Covid cases. Without the proper knowledge, social distancing norms and other Covid safety precautions will likely be eased.
If this occurs, there is a higher probability of another wave of cases due to a lack of vigilance. There have already been announcements made by the Governors of Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and several more that have encouraged the mask mandate to be removed. Some states have even declared that businesses can operate at almost full capacity. Romney Humphries, a professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Centre explained that “All of those things are creating a sense for the public that the pandemic is over. By no means is that true”.