Will the US ever have a national COVID-19 testing strategy?

FILE - In this Wednesday, Nov 18, 2020 file photo, motorists wait in long lines to take a coronavirus test in a parking lot at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Health experts around the country are hoping the incoming Biden administration will put in place a comprehensive national testing strategy. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Nov 18, 2020 file photo, motorists wait in long lines to take a coronavirus test in a parking lot at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Health experts around the country are hoping the incoming Biden administration will put in place a comprehensive national testing strategy. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

NEW YORK – As the coronavirus epidemic worsens, U.S. health experts hope Joe Biden's administration will put in place something Donald Trump's has not — a comprehensive national testing strategy.

Such a strategy, they say, could systematically check more people for infections and spot surges before they take off. The health experts say it would be an improvement from the current practice, which has professional athletes and students at elite universities getting routine tests while many other Americans stand in line for hours — if they get tested at all.

“We have had no strategy for this virus. Our strategy has been no strategy,” said Dr. Michael Mina, a Harvard University researcher focused on use of testing to track disease.

Some experts say the lack of such a system is one reason for the current national explosion in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

“If we'd had a more robust approach and testing was scaled up as one of the tools, I think much of this third surge would have been avoidable," said Dr. Grant Colfax, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

There are differing opinions on what such a strategy should look like, but many experts say rapid and at-home tests should be used so Americans can check themselves and stay away from others if they test positive.

The president-elect has endorsed that strategy, called for making testing free for all Americans, and said government experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies should be empowered to coordinate the entire effort.

“The reality is we’re not testing enough today," Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, co-chair of Biden’s coronavirus advisory board, told The Associated Press this week.