HHS Had Planned To End Support For Community-Based Testing Programs, But Reversed Course Amid Criticism
Under the community-based coronavirus testing site program, the federal government supplies expertise, testing materials, protective equipment and lab contracts to local authorities in 41 sites. The federal government had wanted states to take over the programs. More regional testing news is reported out of California, Georgia and Colorado, as well.
In Reversal, Federal Support For Coronavirus Testing Sites Continues
The Department of Health and Human Services is stepping back from a plan to end support on Friday for community-based coronavirus testing sites around the country. Instead the agency says local authorities can choose whether they want to transition to running the programs themselves or continue with federal oversight and help. The news came after NPR reported yesterday that some local officials were critical of plans to end the program before the pandemic peaks. (Brady, 4/9)
HHS, FEMA Ask States To Take Control Of Drive-Through Testing Sites
But an HHS spokesperson told POLITICO the federal government will continue to operate the sites if governors request such assistance — and said that the agency would not hold states to the deadline listed in a FEMA memo: 5 p.m. today. “I want to be clear that the federal government is not abandoning any of the community-based testing sites,” HHS testing czar Brett Giroir told reporters late Thursday. “Many people want the federal government to allow them to do the programs as they want — without the Public Health Service officers, without the restrictions that we have." (Lim, 4/9)
How The Government Delayed Coronavirus Testing
A weeks-long testing delay that effectively blinded public health officials to the spread of the coronavirus in the US might have been avoided had federal agencies fully enacted their own plan to ramp up testing during a national health crisis. The plan, which is spelled out in an April 2018 agreement between the Centers for Disease Control and three of the biggest associations involved in lab testing, called for boosting the capacity of public health labs, bringing big commercial labs into the testing process early, and making sure labs would have whatever they needed to mount a rapid, large-scale response. (Ortega, Bronstein, Devine and Griffin, 4/9)
Amazon Developing Lab To Test Workers For COVID-19
Amazon is developing a lab to test all of its workers for coronavirus, the tech giant announced Thursday evening. The announcement comes as employees in at least 64 of its warehouses have tested positive for the disease as of Thursday. Amazon is developing a diagnostic test to determine whether a person has the virus, as opposed to a blood test that could detect antibodies made by the immune system when a person is exposed. (Moreno, 4/9)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Speedy Coronavirus Tests Make Inroads At Bay Area Clinics
About a dozen Bay Area urgent care clinics are using new, faster coronavirus tests that generate results in minutes instead of the hours or days that most diagnostic tests take. Some doctors hope the rapid tests, such as the ID Now test made by an Illinois company, Abbott — which generates a positive result in five minutes and a negative result in 13 minutes — may soon become a much more common way to get tested for the novel coronavirus. But that is unlikely to happen right away because rapid-testing systems come with limitations that make them difficult to scale up immediately. (Ho, 4/9)
COVID-19 Testing Site For Pre-Approved Patients To Open In Douglas Co.
The Cobb and Douglas Public Health Department on Friday will open its second drive-through COVID-19 testing site for pre-approved patients. The site will open April 10 at Hunter Memorial Park at 8830 Gurley Road in Douglasville. Douglas County has closed the park and its parking lots to the public to accommodate the health department’s needs. (Dixon, 4/9)
Kaiser Health News:
A Colorado Ski Community Planned To Test Everyone For COVID-19. Here’s What Happened.
In late March, residents of the Colorado town of Telluride and surrounding San Miguel County stood in line, along marked spots spaced 6 feet apart, to have their blood drawn by medical technicians wearing Tyvek suits, face shields and gloves for a new COVID-19 test. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s tests for the virus that causes the respiratory illness have been in short supply since the outbreak began, this was a new type of test. (Aschwanden, 4/10)