President Donald Trump has announced plans to distribute 150 million rapid coronavirus tests throughout the country in the coming weeks.
The president declared his plan, first promoted by the White House in August, on Monday during a Rose Garden press conference. Trump disclosed that the Abbott Laboratories tests will be distributed to governors, and emphasized the importance of providing testing for K-12 education and vulnerable communities.
“Thank you for joining us as we announce a massive and groundbreaking expansion in our testing capability for the China virus,” Trump told reporters.
“The support my administration is providing would allow every state to, on a very regular basis, test every teacher who needs it,” he added. “This continues our critical effort to use testing to protect high-risk communities.”
Under the plan, 50 million tests will go toward protecting “the most vulnerable communities,” including 18 million for nursing homes; 15 million for assisted living facilities; 10 million for hospice care agencies; and nearly 1 million for historically black colleges and universities, as well as tribal nation colleges, Trump stated.
About 100 million tests, the President continued, “will be given to states and territories to support efforts to reopen their economies and schools immediately and [as] fast as they can.”
Trump noted that, while the increase in testing will most likely result in a higher number of asymptomatic cases among low-risk populations, “this should not cause undue alarm.”
“The total number of cases is not the full metric of success. Hospitalization capacity and mortality rates are far more instructive metric,” he said. “As we do more tests, you’re going to have, automatically, more cases.”
The Administration awarded on August 27 a $760 million contract to Abbott for the delivery of the tests, according to U.S. testing czar Brett Giroir. The tests will be distributed “very, very soon,” Trump added.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Abbott Tests Offer Results Within a Maximum of 15 Minutes
According to the president, the new Abbott tests will provide results within a maximum of 15 minutes.
“No machine is required to process them,” Trump indicated. “In the old days, when we just started this, you remember we’d go out and we’d have to find these massive laboratories with tremendously expensive equipment.”
“Now we’re down to something that you’ll see that is really from a different planet.”
The tests use a Puritan-made nasal swab to detect the presence of the COVID-19 antigen, Giroir added. They can also be administered in laboratories with “a clear certificate of waiver.”
“This is not a home test,” Giroir said. “But during the health emergency, Seema Verma and CMS permits laboratories to extend their certificate to operate in temporary sites, like schools or churches or parking lots.”
More Than 111 Million Tests Have Been Performed So Far, Giroir Says
Giroir indicated during the Rose Garden briefing that over 111 million coronavirus tests have been “performed” in the nation so far.
“On 13 separate days, we have achieved tests over 1 million per day, and our average test numbers are now approximately 920,000 per day,” he stated.
Trump described the the feat as a “historic milestone” and “far more than any other country.”
“Last week, we crossed a historic milestone when the United States conducted our 100 millionth test, far more than any other country, and not even close, actually,” he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention re-updated its coronavirus testing guidelines earlier this month to again suggest that anyone who has been in contact with an infected person should be tested.