by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
Recently, Richard Craver at the Winston-Salem Journal reported on a proposal for a randomized test of 1,000 North Carolina residents for coronavirus to uncover just how many people in North Carolina could have contracted the illness. Craver writes:
For weeks, Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, has called for Cooper and state health officials to conduct random coronavirus tests as a gauge for measuring potential community spread of the virus…
“Government leaders are making decisions without the benefit of relevant and obtainable data,” Berger said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, they don’t know how prevalent the virus is and has been in the population. Therefore, we do not have sufficient, reliable information to understand true hospitalization and fatality rates. That necessary data is easily obtainable through random sample testing,” Berger said.
The N.C. Justice Center, among others, accused Berger of using this proposal as a way to feign political expediency without any real substance. Craver writes:
The left-leaning N.C. Justice Center said in response to Berger’s proposal that “floating an idea like that without acknowledging we need more investments in our health-care system to combat the coronavirus … isn’t confronting what North Carolina families are dealing with.”
Craver asked JLF’s Mitch Kokai to comment on the situation. Craver quotes Kokai:
Mitch Kokai, senior policy analyst with Libertarian think tank John Locke Foundation, said that “even under the best of circumstances, elected officials must choose between competing priorities.”
Kokai said Berger’s proposal does not mean he “is playing partisan games.”
“He’s not standing against the Cooper administration’s actions for purely political reasons. He is raising serious legitimate questions about the state’s response,” Kokai said.
Carolina Journal’s Julie Havlak recently reported on the feasibility of a randomized test. Havlak writes:
The state has considered using random sampling to discover that percentage, but such testing would have to be done in a scientifically rigorous way — meaning tests would have to be repeated and carefully considered. The state does not yet have a reliable random antibody test to discover how many people have recovered from the virus.