A new study places Tennessee among just nine states that are doing sufficient testing for the coronavirus.
Harvard’s Global Health Institute tells NPR that the country overall is falling far short of daily testing targets. The group’s study considers the number of tests happening, the count of people infected and how many close contacts they likely have, and what percentage of tests are coming back positive.
But Tennessee averaged more than 8,300 tests per day during the study’s timeframe. Researchers say that was well above the 3,200 daily tests that the state would need at minimum. WPLN News recently found that a key strength in Tennessee testing is the state’s willingness to cover lab processing costs.
Among all people tested in Tennessee, 6.1% have been positive as of May 6. That rate has steadily declined since the first week of April, according to state data analyzed by WPLN News. The numbers reflect the state’s major increase in free community testing, as well as hotspots of cases such as two state prisons.
Harvard’s analysis assumes continued social distancing through May 15, and the institute’s director cautions that cases could jump if states aren’t careful in their reopening plans.
The institute, along with the White House, says another important metric is a consistent decline, for two weeks, of cases. The opposite trend has been happening lately in Tennessee, so Harvard suggests testing should continue to rise when that’s the case.