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Why testing everyone for coronavirus is not yet feasible

Doctors say how the virus presents itself can present challenges in testing.

TAMPA, Fla. — Testing is a critical component when it comes to getting control of coronavirus, and now that tests are more widely available, some are asking why can't everyone just be tested? 

The University of South Florida's Dr. Jay Wolfson said the solution is not that simple. 

"We need hundreds of millions of tests if we are going to test everyone," he said.

On top of that, results are only valid for the moment in time a patient is tested. Even then, results might not be accurate, doctors say.

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"If you test somebody today, they may test negative because the virus hasn't hit their body in a way that it'll manifest yet. But if you test them tomorrow or the next day, it will," said Wolfson, who added that similar challenges come with antibody tests. 

There is also concern about a second wave of the virus in the fall as well as the virus mutating, which could impact testing.  

"We expect from all we know about this virus and other viruses that it will go into a dormant state possibly, and then it will reemerge at the end of the summer or fall in its present form and very likely in a mutated form," said Wolfson. 

"That's going to be at the same time that we have the annual influenza coming to bother us, and right at the tail end of the hurricane season. We're going to be juggling all kinds of challenges in the state regarding the health and welfare of the public," he said. 

Wolfson says on top of testing, there are proactive steps people can take to prevent the spread of the virus. 

"Healthy people make for a healthy community and for a healthy economy," he said. "We can all get healthier than we are now. We can exercise. We can walk. We can run. We can [bicycle]. We can do exercise equipment. And we can eat better to boost our immune system and make sure that we stay as healthy and protected as possible."

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