CHICAGO (WLS) -- The testing of potential COVID-19 patients is "failing" according to a top doctor from the National Institutes of Health.
That that dire assessment came Thursday just as President Trump hailed government testing, saying it "has been going very smooth."
An I-Team reality check of coronavirus testing turns up disappointment and distress, and sometimes no answers.
"The system is not really geared to what we need right now," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. expert on infectious disease at the National Institutes of Health. "That is a failing. It is a failing. Let's admit it."
It is an admission that here in Illinois and 44 other states, the federal government's rollout of COVID-19 test kits has been a disaster.
During testimony Thursday on Capitol Hill, Fauci was joined on the hotseat by Dr. Robert Redfield who directs the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the agency in charge of American testing for coronavirus.
"Since March 2 I've been told there have been 4 million tests now that have entered the market," said Redfield. "But what I want to say is that the test isn't the whole answer. You need people to do the tests. Laboratory equipment to do the tests."
Officials at the Illinois state health department lab, and in many states across the U.S., say they are ready to do the tests, but hampered by unreasonable and overly strict federal guidelines and in some cases CDC kits that are missing key components. During the DC hearing Thursday the CDC director didn't answer the basic question of which person is in charge, when pressed by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-FLORIDA.
"There's not one person that can ensure these tests can be administered....yes or no?" Rep. Wasserman Schultz asked.
There was no answer from the CDC's top man to the question of who is in charge of ensuring COVID-19 testing.
Since late January CDC has tested about 11,000 specimens for the virus. For comparison, South Korea is testing nearly 20,000 patients per day.
The South Korean response to COVID-19 has been: "trace, test and treat." A network of almost 100 labs are cranking out test results 24 hours a day. The upshot of a very aggressive public health approach has been that South Korea's death rate for coronavirus is now stands close to 80-percent lower than the global rate.
Coronavirus testing debacle is in the execution, top US coronavirus-fighter admits