Week in Review: Tackling test supply shortages | Should Medicaid cover sequencing in kids? | Pathology case study

Dear LabPulse Member,

The July Fourth weekend is upon us and it should be a happy time. But instead we are worrying about the coronavirus and trying to figure out how to be somewhat social and safe at the same time.

Here in LabPulse.com's home of San Francisco, fireworks have been going off at all hours for weeks ahead of Independence Day. Some nights they are so close they wake you up with a bang! We expected salons to open this week, but that idea went by the wayside along with a broader retreat from reopening plans in California. Some folks are canceling planned activities in line with the state government cautionary line. Is that "socially distanced" buffet-free outdoor barbecue with family and neighbors a bad idea?

White House coronavirus press briefings are getting regular again, for better or worse. This week, Admiral Dr. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of health, presented a rosy picture of testing in the U.S., noting that from 550,000 to 600,000 tests are being conducted every day now, compared with only a few thousand in early March. The country will be conducting 18 to 20 million tests per month in July and could easily be running 40 to 50 million tests by September, as a "very conservative estimate," Giroir said, crediting the use of pooling of samples.

A number of associations of lab medicine professionals have been speaking out about the need for more coordination on the federal level and more attention to the persistent shortages of supplies that are diminishing capacity to test.

Dr. Gary Procop, chair of the American Society for Clinical Pathology's commission on science, technology, and policy, talked to LabPulse.com about a presentation he gave at a virtual meeting for labs hosted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During the briefing, he argued for a national testing strategy that could be managed by a central governmental agency but which would involve all of the relevant associations. Are interests aligned? It's a small, collegial world, so yes, Procop said.

The College of American Pathologists just published the results from a survey of labs showing that shortages of supplies persist, with only a slight improvement from April to June. Worldwide, COVID-19 testing volume was on target to grow by 25% to 30% from May to June, according to a new report from market research firm Kalorama Information, a sister company of LabPulse.com.

In a recent letter to the U.S. Senate health committee leadership, the American Association for Clinical Chemistry outlined actions needed to tackle the next pandemic, including national stockpiling of medical supplies and federal coordination of the supply chain to ensure appropriate distribution.

Finally, aside from COVID-19 news, I would like to highlight a new pathology case study published on our website. This one, which comes courtesy of Dr. Abdul Abid at the University of Texas Medical Branch, presents a 10-year-old girl with elevated liver enzymes. Can you make the diagnosis? If you would like to submit a case yourself, please get in touch.

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