Episode 181
Apr 28, 2020

We need millions of tests to open this economy. So, where are they?

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We asked Loren Wold, whose team at Ohio State is making them right now.

Coronavirus testing is way, way, waaaay behind here, folks. The test shortage is a huge problem that’s making it hard to see how — and when — this country can get back to regular programming.

A lack of tests hobbled the government’s efforts to track the pandemic’s spread in the United States. Now health experts say we need millions of tests every week to safely begin reopening the economy.

The latest coronavirus relief bill includes $25 billion for more testing, earmarked for states and cities. As the number of confirmed cases passes 1 million this week, America’s per-capita testing lags behind other advanced countries and varies widely by state. And the U.S. health care system is a decentralized behemoth with a global supply chain, which is not delivering quickly in this crisis.

To learn more about how these tests work and the challenges of making more of them, we called up Loren Wold. He’s director of biomedical research at the College of Nursing at Ohio State and one of Molly Wood’s high-school classmates. After explaining the difference between antigens and antibodies, he made us smart about supply chains for swabs and told us just how scared he is about what’s coming.

Later in the show, we’ll pick apart the discourse around America’s meatpacking industry, the potential product shortfall and what happens to workers. Plus, we hear from a listener working in a warehouse and another who’s just been laid off.

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The team

Molly Wood Host
Jody Becker Interim Senior Producer
Tony Wagner Digital Producer
Sam Anderson Associate Producer