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American Samoa's coronavirus conundrum: No way to test

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  • American Samoa's coronavirus conundrum: No way to test


    American Samoa's coronavirus conundrum: No way to test
    The remote U.S. territory lacks the ability to conduct its own tests on possible COVID-19 patients, fueling concerns it's ill-equipped to handle an outbreak.
    March 25, 2020, 2:15 PM EDT
    By Peter Georgiev and Adiel Kaplan

    As the coronavirus was rapidly spreading across the continental United States last week, a person living thousands of miles away in American Samoa developed what appeared to be symptoms of the virus.

    Health officials In the U.S. territory located deep in the South Pacific rushed to determine if its first potential COVID-19 case would turn out positive. But they had one problem: they couldn’t analyze the samples.

    “There’s no way for us to test whether we have a case,” Iulogologo Joseph Pereira, executive assistant to the American Samoa governor and the head of the territory’s coronavirus task force, told NBC News.

    Without a certified lab to handle testing, American Samoa tried submitting the samples to the nearest public health lab in Hawaii, some 2,300 miles away, officials said. After the patient didn’t meet that state’s testing criteria, the health department turned to its second quickest alternative — sending them more than 6,500 miles away to be examined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Six days later, the territory still doesn’t have the results, officials said...