The President and CEO of Beth Israel Lahey Health said Thursday that the United States is currently seeing just “the tip of the iceberg” of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country.
“All the medical professionals know coronavirus is circulating widely in the community already, and we’re seeing cases,” Dr. Kevin Tabb told Greater Boston host Jim Braude.
“There’s no question, based on the number of cases that are positive, that that is the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
The lack of clarity on the number of cases is due in part to tests not being widely available, said Tabb and the CEO of Tufts Medical Center, Dr. Michael Apkon.
Though President Donald Trump claimed last week that “anybody who wants a test can get a test,” that message has been publicly contradicted by a number of public health officials, including those in his own administration. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who sits on the White House's coronavirus task force, said the current system is “a failing.”
More Local News
Apkon called for more liberal testing procedures.
“The restrictions around who can be tested have been gradually relaxed, but they still require a high probability that the person actually has the infection,” he said.
“What needs to happen for control of the spread of the infection is to be able to screen people, to identify people who are carrying the infection with less significant symptoms,” Apkon said.
Tabb, however, said that while continued testing was still important, he believed that the most critical point for testing had likely already passed.
“It was incredibly important a week ago or more to be testing out widely in the community to see where we were seeing the virus and to contain it. I think we’ve passed that point,” he explained.
"It’s still important to test," he said, "but I think it would be fair to say in a week’s time, the majority of patients who show up with or without a test that have respiratory symptoms and a fever, we can assume it’s likely that they have coronavirus."