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A national program to increase test processing and turnaround times is desperately needed if the coronavirus is to be contained. White House officials have acknowledged the need for quicker turnaround times; what's needed now is federal funding to increase laboratory testing capacity.

Laboratories that process the tests are being overwhelmed by the sheer numbers as total infections across the country have now topped the 4 million mark. Officials estimate 770,000 tests are being performed daily. With some labs taking weeks to process tests, health experts fear asymptomatic people who are not self-quarantining while awaiting results could be spreading the virus.

And those who are isolating are often missing significant work days--and paychecks--while sometimes waiting weeks for results that come back negative.

Health experts have said from the start of the pandemic testing and contact tracing are keys in controlling the virus, but the delays in obtaining test results make tracing all the more difficult or too late to be effective. Officials estimate if turnaround times extend beyond several days, the results can be useless because the person tested may have already infected scores of people in the interim.

The CDC issued guidelines recommending states lifting restrictions have testing turnaround times of under four days. That has been a difficult--if not impossible--target to hit for most states.

Federal officials are reportedly working with testing companies to ramp up the number of tests they can perform. That needs to be a priority with an immediate funding commitment.

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