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Thanksgiving Testing Crunch Foreshadows Strain in December

Bloomberg logoBloomberg 11/27/2020 Nic Querolo and Emma Court

(Bloomberg) -- Americans flocked to coronavirus testing sites in the week leading up to Thanksgiving in search of a clean bill of health for travel, which drove up wait times and strained capacity.

Nationally, Saturday saw a record with 1.98 million tests performed, according to Covid Tracking Project data. California set its own new mark Tuesday. New York state reported a record high of 217,721 tests this week; its statewide positive test rate was 3.18%, up from a seven-day average of 2.89%.

Daily Covid-19 cases climbed throughout November, and communal gatherings over the holiday could expedite the spread, pushing cases to new heights and requiring thousands of added tests. The constraints also foreshadow another round of difficulties in December, when Americans will travel again for the holidays.

Brett Giroir, the Department of Health and Human Services official who leads the administration’s Covid-19 diagnostic testing efforts, said he expects screening to return to earlier levels after Thanksgiving. “People are going to get a test just to see if they’re negative before going on travel,” he said in a briefing this week. “I do believe we’ll be back to a baseline area for those type of tests.”

chart: Testing Climbs © Bloomberg Testing Climbs

The U.S. reported an additional 125,082 virus cases Thursday, according to Covid Tracking Project data, though data can stream in slowly over holidays. There have been more than 263,000 deaths cumulatively, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Covid Tracking Project data show:

North Dakota, Nebraska and Colorado had the most new cases per million people, though many states didn’t report.The states with the worst momentum were New Mexico, Colorado and West Virginia as measured by the percent change in seven-day average cases from a week earlier.Pennsylvania and Oregon posted record case counts Thursday.

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