Microsoft founder Bill Gates suggested the U.S. government reimburse healthcare companies that perform coronavirus tests within 24 hours in an interview with technology magazine Wired published Friday.
States that have seen an influx of cases in recent weeks, such as Florida and California, have tried to restore test results to potentially infected people, making retention efforts more difficult as people do not know if they have the virus.
“This is just stupid,”; Gates said of the slow test results, adding that companies would fix their “overnight” delay issues if there was a reimbursement program that could spur more efficient retention efforts. .
“Most of all American tests are completely waste, wasted,” Gates told George. “If you do not care how late the date is and you reimburse at the same level, of course they will take every customer. Because they are making ridiculous money, and mostly rich people are approaching it.”
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He added that the government could pay companies able to complete the tests within 24 hours “a little more;” the payment would be “normal” for companies able to complete the tests in 48 hours, and the payment would be “nothing” for companies unable to complete the tests after 48 hours.
“They’ll fix it overnight,” he told Wired.
He then dealt a blow to the government’s COVID-19 response efforts, saying the reason such a reimbursement program does not yet exist is because its deployment would be the responsibility of the government.
“The federal government is setting up that reimbursement system,” he said. “When we tell them to change, they say, ‘As far as we can tell, we’re just doing a great job, it’ s amazing! “Here we are, this is August. We are the only country in the world where we spend more money on rehearsals. Fix the refund.”
He added that he has been advocating for such a useless system.
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“I was in that shock and people are tired of hearing me,” Gates told Wired.
U.S. testing for coronavirus is falling even as infections remain high and the death toll rises to more than 1,000 a day, a worrying trend that officials attribute mostly to Americans being discouraged because they have to wait hours to get a test and days or weeks to learn the results.
An Associated Press analysis found that the number of tests per day slipped 3.6 percent over the past two weeks to 750,000, with counts in 22 states.
This includes places like Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri and Iowa where the percentage of positive tests is high and continues to rise, an indication that the virus is still spreading unchecked.
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Widespread testing is considered essential for blast management as the U.S. approaches a giant 5 million confirmed infections – most of every country in the world – and more than 161,000 deaths from over 720,000 globally.
President Trump suggested at a campaign rally in June that he wanted to slow down the COVID-19 test results so that the numbers of positive issues would stop growing.
“When you test to that extent, you will find more people, you will find more cases,” he said. “So I said to my people, ‘Slow down the evidence, please.’ They test and they test.”
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.