Despite Promises, Testing Delays Leave Americans ‘Flying Blind’

Wendy Bost, a spokeswoman for Quest, which introduced its coronavirus tests on March 9, said the company had ramped up its testing and could now process more than 35,000 tests per day — over 200,000 each week — at its 12 labs around the country. Last week, Quest asked hospitals to identify health care workers and symptomatic patients for priority processing and she said the company was providing results now on an average of a day for that population.

To date, Quest has processed nearly 550,000 coronavirus tests, Ms. Bost said. The current turnaround time for other patients, she said, is now two to three days although she acknowledged there was a longer wait in the areas most affected, like Chicago, New York, New Jersey and Miami.

LabCorp has four labs running, also averaging about 35,000 to 40,000 coronavirus tests each day, the company said. Mike Geller, a LabCorp spokesman,

Read More

Bad News Wrapped in Protein: Inside the Coronavirus Genome

A virus is “simply a piece of bad news wrapped up in protein,” the biologists Jean and Peter Medawar wrote in 1977.

In January, scientists deciphered a piece of very bad news: the genome of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. The sample came from a 41-year-old man who worked at the seafood market in Wuhan where the first cluster of cases appeared.

Researchers are now racing to make sense of this viral recipe, which could inspire drugs, vaccines and other tools to fight the ongoing pandemic.

A String of RNA

Viruses must hijack living cells to replicate and spread. When the coronavirus finds a suitable cell, it injects a strand of RNA that contains the entire coronavirus genome.

The genome of the new coronavirus is less than 30,000 “letters” long. (The human genome is over 3 billion.) Scientists have identified genes for as many as 29 proteins, which

Read More

How Coronavirus Attacks the Body

You’re looking at a virtual reality image of a coronavirus patient at George Washington Hospital in Washington, D.C. The patient is a generally healthy 59-year-old man with high blood pressure. Just days before this image was created, he was asymptomatic. But now, those green areas show where the infection has damaged tissue in the lungs. For many, Covid-19 will be mild, but for others it’s deadly. This video is about the latter path: How the virus kills. We’ll start in China: 191 confirmed Covid-19 patients were in a hospital in Wuhan — 54 died. Of those 54, 50 had a condition known as ARDS, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. It’s a condition that stops oxygen from reaching the organs. “You have air hunger.” “It means that they can’t breathe.” “There’s a very strong correlation between the people who develop ARDS and the people who die.” ARDS is not unique to Covid-19.

Read More

One Final Step for 52 Medical Students, Eager to Join the Fight

“I sent my mom a text, ‘N.Y.U. is drafting medical students to help fight Covid,’” Mark S. Cort, 26, said. “She immediately called me. She knows I’m pretty hardheaded. She made sure that I knew she loved me, and that she would be praying for me.”

“If they are saying they need more foot soldiers,’’ Dr. Horan said, “I’m here to help.”

It was a spirit echo of a moment 17 years ago, when hundreds of soldiers from the 101st Airborne of the United States Army gathered in a giant hangar at Fort Campbell, Ky., before they boarded planes for the invasion of Iraq. The national leadership had deemed it a worthy cause, a decision many saw, or came to see, as wrong.

But what started true and stayed true was the impulse of those men and women to serve. Many were in their early 20s. (The chaplain posted a

Read More