America Has Not Fixed Its Deadliest Pandemic Errors

America Has Not Fixed Its Deadliest Pandemic Errors

The COVID Tracking Project’s extensive, daily data collection reveals the simple yet devastating ways the U.S. has failed.

As the pandemic enters its second year, the coronavirus has remade everyday life in the United States. More than 19 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since March, and at least 330,000 Americans have died of it, according to the COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic. Yesterday, 3,903 Americans were reported to have died of the virus, the highest death toll since the pandemic began.

Yet the U.S. is still making the same two deadly mistakes that have defined its response since the pandemic began, our ongoing investigation has found. The nation still does not have enough tests to combat the pandemic. And it is still allowing the virus to rampage through nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities.

After an early failure in February left the country with growing caseloads and too few COVID-19 tests to track the outbreak, the U.S. has never caught up. By the middle of December, the country tested about 1.8 million people a day for the virus, which was close to an all-time high. But to begin fighting the virus through testing—by, for instance, identifying infected people before they pass the virus to others—the U.S. must test at least 4.4 million people a day, according to the Harvard Global Health Institute. Ideally, given the scale of the pandemic, the country would run 14 million tests a day, the institute posits.