Why COVID-19 testing is key to reopen schools and businesses

Epidemiologist Dr. Blythe Adamson talks about testing shortages, pooled testing and more.
5:04 | 12/02/20

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Transcript for Why COVID-19 testing is key to reopen schools and businesses
as the covid-19 crisis continues, testing has emerged as one of the key components to combat the spread of the disease, helping schools and businesses to reopen safely across the country. And here with an update on how testing is going is Dr. Blythe Adamson, former member of the white house coronavirus task force and adviser to testing for America, a nonprofit aimed at solving the testing crisis. Nice to see you again, doctor. We'll talk specifically about New York City schools set to reopen -- the elementary public schools set to reopen next Monday with weekly testing, tell us how that testing will work and why testing is a viable option for sool systems to reopen this way. S now with New York City schools reopening is that they'll be requiring informed consent from parents to be able to test all kids that are returning back to school in person and this is really important because we need the testing results to be representative of all the kids that are really in class, not just the parents that had opted into testing previously. Now, we'll see weekly testing of about 20% of New York City students every week. Weekly testing, but you said -- you're a proponent of something called pool testing, I'm not sure how much of it is taking place, but you're essentially mixing samples if you will instead of testing people individually, you're S a group, tell us how this could help us move us along. It's not a new idea we have had during the pandemic. Pooling is something that has been happening for a long time. With HIV, we pool samples very often to find out if there's a positive. It makes a lot of sense costwise. Right now, we'll have information each week about 20% of the students. But we could for the same number of tests run, instead pool some of those samples together, and if we do it in a smart way we'll end up having more information that's very actionable. So if you get -- if you pool the kids together in a classroom and you get a positive hit on the test result, then you know immediately close the class and contact tracing investigations can begin. You don't necessarily have to close the whole school. Well, let's talk about potential testing shortages because a nonpartisan report has warned that over half of the country may have testing shortages. We're nearly a year now into this pandemic, why are we still dealing with shortages when testing is such an important part of moving forward with our economy and life as we knew it? Well, just over the last there was an expected surge in the demand for testing because Y people wanted to travel for Thanksgiving and have the assurance that they were really negative before getting on to that flight and showing up at their Thanksgiving table and going to see the consequences of a those traveling decisions in two to three weeks when we're expecting to see many cases that are coming from those transmissions, and it's really going to be a challenge for Americans to then decide should we be traveling during Christmas and do we expect to see the same surge in demand for assurance testing at the end of the December. So, you know, that extra demand for testing really is a lot related to the holidays. And you're a former member of the white house coronavirus task force, lot of news made here about Dr. Scott atlas, a controversial member, he just resigned from that task force, but aside from Dr. Atlas, is this task force right now still effective, or is it a lame duck task force right now that's just waiting for the next administration? Well, you know, I've been really forward looking. Right now, these problems are still very, very hard to solve. We've tried lots of different things and with, you know, new ideas coming in I'm looking forward to seeing how this new group and new administration is able to try to be creative and solve some of these tough problems. But it's great to see CDC really stepping up as a leader in the priorization of vaccines and guiding us in the policies that are going forward for next year. Dr. Adamsonsked if it's still effective. You said you're looking forward to the next administration. Do we need this task force to be functioning no matter what? Absolutely, and continuing to be open and transitioning the knowledge and lessons learned of, you know, policies tried, you know, supply chain challenges so that we can have a seamless transition as possible and not lose any of the valuable lessons learned. Dr. Adamson, I think we all agree there needs to be a good transition. Good to see you. Appreciate you and your knowledge. As always. Talk to you again. Thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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