Anyone can get a coronavirus test at the CentroMed clinic in San Antonio, but on a recent day, the drive-thru was empty. Finally two masked people in a maroon SUV pulled straight on through with no wait. With hundreds of deaths reported each day, students returning to class and football teams charging ahead with plans to play, Texas leaders who grappled with testing shortages for much of the pandemic are now facing the opposite problem: not enough takers, the AP reports. "We're not having enough people step forward," Gov. Greg Abbott said. The number of coronavirus tests being done each day in Texas has dropped by the thousands in August, mirroring nationwide trends that have seen daily testing averages fall nearly 9% since the end of July, according to The COVID Tracking Project.
The problem is dwindling demand: Testing centers like CentroMed are no longer inundated by long lines that stretch for blocks, or closing hours early because tests run out. The dropoff comes as the US has surpassed 5 million confirmed coronavirus cases and is closing in on 170,000 deaths. It's not clear why testing has fallen off, even as many areas of the country are still experiencing serious outbreaks. Health experts suspect some Americans, jaded by images of long testing lines and the possibility of results taking a week or longer, are deciding not to bother unless they're ill. Meanwhile things have improved in Texas, including a nearly 40% drop in hospitalizations since July's peak. But deaths remain high, and doctors in some parts still say they're still stretched.
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