The Trump administration has announced a plan to distribute millions of rapid COVID-19 tests to states, with a focus on using the tests to reopen schools.
On Monday (Sept. 28), President Donald Trump said in a news conference that the federal government would soon begin deploying 150 million rapid COVID-19 tests across the country. Of these, 50 million tests would go to support “vulnerable communities,” such as those in nursing homes, while 100 million tests would go to states “to support efforts to reopen their economies and schools immediately and fast as they can,” Trump said.
The rapid test, which is made by Abbott, is an antigen test, which looks for specific viral proteins, and can provide results in 15 minutes. Known as the Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card, the test is a simple nasal swab that requires no lab equipment. The test received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in late August, Live Science previously reported. The test is authorized for use in point-of-care settings, that is, at the time patients receive care. The Trump administration recently awarded a $760 million contract to Abbott for delivery of its rapid tests, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
To start, 6.5 million tests will be shipped to states this week. Although governors will be allowed to use the tests as they see fit, they are encouraged to use them in schools, officials said.
“We expressed a hope to all the governors today that they would particularly use these Abbott Binax tests to open up American’s schools and to keep them open,” Vice President Mike Pence said at the conference.
There are about 56 million school-aged children in the United States, and 3.7 million teachers, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. Trump specifically mentioned using the tests for teachers, saying the testing efforts would “allow every state to, on a very regular basis, test every teacher who needs it.”
Originally published on Live Science.