Sep 28, 2020 - Health

Trump announces plan to distribute 150 million rapid coronavirus tests

President Trump announced on Monday that the federal government will distribute 150 million rapid, point-of-care coronavirus tests to states over the next few weeks, including to K-12 schools and vulnerable communities like nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Why it matters: The Trump administration has stressed the importance of reopening schools in allowing parents to return to work and jumpstarting the economy.

What's happening: Who gets tested is ultimately at the discretion of the governors, but the administration is encouraging schools to use the rapid tests to help restart and maintain in-person teaching.

  • The rapid tests, which deliver results in 15 minutes, will come from a previously announced supply of 150 million tests ordered from Abbott Laboratories. Teachers and parents would be able to test their children on a weekly basis.
  • 6.5 million tests will go out this week and a total of 100 million tests will be distributed to governors based on state population over the next several weeks, Trump announced.

Yes, but: The rapid tests are less accurate and could need confirmation from more sensitive PCR swab tests, which take days for results.

  • Health officials also fear many of the tests will go unreported, as states could authorize tests outside of a health care setting — leading to underreported state and nationwide case counts.

The big picture: Experts have warned the U.S. could experience a surge in COVID-19 infections this fall and winter.

What they're saying: "As of today, the nation has performed over 111 million tests for the virus causing COVID. On 13 separate days, we have achieved tests of over 1 million per day, and our average test numbers are now approximately 920,000 per day," the administration's testing coordinator Adm. Brett Giroir said Monday before demonstrating how to use a rapid test.

  • "We are now at an inflection point for testing. We now have available on average 3 million tests per day, not counting pool testing which could multiply that number several-fold. Nearly half of our current tests are rapid point-of-care."
Go deeper