Scheduled covid-19 testing events were abruptly canceled Monday morning due to supply shortages. The second day of a two-day event in Fargo and one in Williston will be rescheduled. The testing supply shortage has also prevented the results of nearly 5,000 completed tests from being known according to Governor Burgum. Months into our fight to understand the coronavirus, and testing is still an issue. That is a dangerous failure.
On March 6th, President Trump declared, “anybody that needs a test, gets a test.” Two months later, his statement is still not true. North Dakota cannot fulfill its testing hopes because of supply shortages. At a press conference explaining the situation, Burgum explained, “We’re competing against all 50 states,” and the federal government for testing supplies. If only there was some way these 50 American states could be united with a plan on testing.
Monday was also the fourth day of ND being reopened. There is a lot of debate about whether or not the expiration of business closures was a good idea. That answer will be determined in time. Whether you agree with the move or not, the reasoning behind the decision took a major set back four days in.
Burgum based his decision to “restart” on eight guidelines. In an April 27th statement, he said we had met six of those eight and we would continue and work to fulfill the remaining two as open signs lit up and doors became unlocked. One of the criteria checked as fulfilled, “widespread, rapid testing capacity.” Exactly one week following that statement, widespread testing was canceled. Supplies didn’t meet the capacity.
People will continue to debate about the decision and timing of reopening bars, restaurants, theaters, gyms, and salons in ND. Burgum was confident in the data and expectations we’d continue on that path uninterrupted. We were interrupted. Let’s hope it is brief.
An argument can be made this testing debacle isn’t entirely on Burgum’s shoulders. It certainly isn’t on the hard-working Department of Health employees, nor the National Guard assisting. It appeared by the abrupt cancellations and the statements that followed as though the state was caught off guard by the supply shortage. Perhaps if the person in charge of the United States had taken “responsibility” the best-laid plans of the individual states could be fulfilled.