By Mark F. Gray
AFRO Staff Writer
mgray@afro.com

A University of Maryland professor claims the United States is behind in testing for the coronavirus because its procedures are inferior to those of other countries around the world.  

In a broadcast interview on WTOP-FM,  Michael Greenberger, director of the University of Maryland’s Center for Health and Homeland Security, said the virus “may have been circulating for weeks” before the first cases were diagnosed because of testing policies he termed were “shamefully inadequate.”

”It’s developing on its own in the United States,” Greenberger said.

At the inception of this international pandemic, the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta focused their testing on people who had recently been to China and returned to the United States. However, Greenberger said many of the new American cases have nothing to do with China and are developing here on the mainland. He said many of them could have been dealt with more efficiently if the Obama administration’s procedures that were initiated during the Ebola outbreak in 2014 had remained in place. They have been changed under the current administration.

“We started from square one, rather than building on what was available,” Greenberger said. “For every one of these things, we have to develop a vaccine or another antiviral.”

Greenberger also said individual state health departments need resources from the federal government such as testing and antivirals.

“When they get what they need from the federal government, they are superb. But when they don’t have the proper test kits, and they’re dependent on the federal government, they’ve been slowed down.”

(Photo Courtesy Bing Images)

As of March 2, there had been 82 cases officially recognized in the United States, with two confirmed deaths. That figure increased from 60 U.S. patients and no deaths heading into the previous weekend. Greenberger verbally indicted current American policies that include a contamination problem at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laboratory in Atlanta where American test kits were being prepared.

The World Health Organization is currently distributing those kits to other countries who have used them to test large portions of their populations. The CDC, as well as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, have insisted on using their own tests, many that are considered to be flawed.

In a recent press conference at the White House, President Trump tried to tone down the public’s concern for the spread of the virus while being joined by representatives from the CDC. He claimed the administration’s response to the outbreak was proactive and saved lives.

“Since the early stages of the foreign outbreak, my administration has taken the most aggressive action in modern history to confront the spread of this disease,” Trump said. “We moved very early. That was one of the decisions we made that really turned out to be a lifesaver, in a sense. A big lifesaver.”

After trying to rebuff the empirical data to suggest otherwise, the president lauded his accomplishments while announcing that Vice President Mike Pence had been named to oversee the government’s response to the virus. Trump also said more than 15,000 virus testing kits had been released last weekend as the administration began working with a commercial provider to distribute another 50,000.