USA TODAY US Edition

Plunging test demand may leave US exposed

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After a year of struggling to boost testing, communitie­s across the country are seeing plummeting demand, shuttering testing sites or even trying to return supplies. U.S. testing hit a peak on Jan. 15, when the country was averaging more than 2 million tests per day. Since then, the average number of daily tests has fallen more than 28%. The drop mirrors declines across all major virus measures since January, including new cases, hospitaliz­ations and deaths.

Officials say those encouragin­g trends, together with harsh winter weather, the end of the holiday travel season, pandemic fatigue and a growing focus on vaccinatio­ns, are sapping interest in testing. But testing remains important for tracking and containing the outbreak.

“We need to use testing to continue the downward trend,” said Dr. Jonathan Quick of the Rockefelle­r Foundation, which has been advising Biden officials. “We need to have it there to catch surges from the variants.”

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