Dr. Osterholm 'States like Georgia are headed for a train wreck' by reopening too soon

COVID-19 testing problems will continue to grow

The Morning News with Dave Lee
April 22, 2020 - 8:17 am

Infectious disease expert Dr. Michael Osterholm with the University of Minnesota had some strong words Wednesday morning for southern states who plan to reopen despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

"This virus will continue to move," Osterholm said on the Morning News with Dave Lee. "If you're in an area where you still have substantial transmission, where it hasn't subsided, and you open everything up again, I guarantee you're going to see a major increase in new cases."

Starting Friday, residents of Georgia will be able to get haircuts, pedicures, massages and more. Starting next Monday, the state will reopen restaurants and movie theatres.

"I think these early, premature openings in areas where we don't have evidence that the activity has been suppressed are going to see very rapid spread," he said. "The policymakers will one day end up being held accountable for how they made the decisions, why they made the decisions, and what the prevailing data were. I'll tell you right now that states like Georgia are headed for a train wreck."

Dr. Osterholm believes a testing train wreck is also in the future. 

"We have well over 45 tests in the public that are capable of testing for the virus and at least 90 capable of testing for antibodies," he said. "Many of these test really provide us little to no additional information because of the fact that they aren't available. They're licensed and approved, but we're having major shortages for the chemicals needed for these tests."

Related MDH: Announcement on testing capacity expected from Gov. in 'very near future'

According to Osterholm, tests are putting out bad results.

"15 to 20 percent of tests for the virus give us a false-negative when you're really positive," he said. "When you test for antibodies in a low prevalence population, where less than 5 percent are expected to have it, up to half of all the positives we get are false-positives, meaning you're not really positive."

You can hear Dr. Osterholm on The Morning News with Dave Lee every Monday and Wednesday at 7:20.

 

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