South Korea isn’t a huge country, just 50 million people, and much of its population lives in and around Seoul. But it is a democracy, so the idea of essentially shutting down the nation when the coronavirus epidemic broke out was a no-go.
Instead of forcing everyone to remain at home, the government took huge steps to find every person who possibly had the virus. In other words, they tested, a lot.
South Korea test 5,200 people per one million people in the population. So far, they’ve tested more than 270,000 people. In contrast, the U.S. has 325 million people and has tested just over 50,000 for the virus. We would need to test more than 1.6 million to reach the level of testing done in South Korea, and that’s the problem.
Roche, Co-Diagnostics, and other firms have developed Covid-19 tests. The hold up is setting up protocols for testing, including how to protect the staff that deals with patients, and then getting all those samples to labs.
The good news is that it will happen. The U.S. theoretically has the ability to test more than one million samples per week. By the end of March, the number of samples tested should be sky-rocketing, which will help authorities identify and isolate infected patients.