Infectious Disease

Biden administration sends 10 million COVID-19 tests a month to schools

January 12, 2022

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Walensky and Zients are not reporting any relevant financial information.

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The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it will send 10 million COVID-19 tests — five million rapid tests and five million lab-based PCR tests — to K-12 schools each month for open distribution during the Omicron surge keep.

According to the administration, 96% of schools in the country are currently open, compared to 46% in January 2021.

Source: Adobe Stock.

The Biden administration said it would send 10 million COVID-19 tests to schools each month. Source: Adobe Stock.

“The omicron variant is creating an unprecedented demand for testing, so we need to ensure school leaders have the support they need to meet that demand.” Jeff Zients, the coordinator of the White House COVID-19 response team, said during a news conference.

States can make requests for additional testing for districts in need, the administration noted. It has already committed $130 billion from the American Rescue Plan to help schools reopen and another $10 billion to support COVID-19 testing in schools.

Additionally, the Biden administration announced that HHS and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are working with state, territory and tribal partners to address community testing needs and establish federal testing sites.

The CDC last month released guidance on “test-to-stay” — an approach that allows students to stay at school during their quarantine period if they remain masked and are tested at least twice in the 7 days of exposure . Later this week, the CDC will release additional training materials for schools to implement the strategy.

Officials made the announcement during the briefing Tom Inglesby, MD, will lead the federal testing program for COVID-19. Inglesby was previously the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

“We continue to work on multiple fronts to improve Americans’ access to testing, and we are all very, very grateful for his willingness to lead that effort,” Zients said.

It was also announced that Pfizer’s COVID-19 antiviral — Paxlovid, which recently received emergency use approval from the FDA — will be available by the end of June. The US has purchased 20 million treatment courses, and 10 million will be available by the end of June, Zients said.

The Omicron variant now accounts for 98% of American cases, CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, said during the briefing.

According to Walensky, a Kaiser Permanente Southern California preprint study that compared more than 52,000 cases of COVID-19 caused by the Omicron variant to nearly 17,000 cases caused by Delta found that cases caused by Omicron were associated with a 53% reduction in hospital admissions. a 74 percent reduction in ICU admissions and a 91 percent reduction in mortality. No patient with Omicron required mechanical ventilation, she said.

Rochelle P Walensky

“Additionally, this study found that those infected with Omicron who were hospitalized had a shorter length of hospital stay than those with Delta,” Walensky said.

“The data in this study was consistent with what we are seeing from omicron in other countries, including South Africa and the UK, and provides some understanding of what we can expect in the coming weeks as this country experiences a peak in cases is predicted.”

Relation:

Lewnard JA, et al. medRxiv. 2022;doi:10.1101/2022.01.11.22269045.

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Amesh A. Adalja, MD

Amesh A. Adalia

As there is a growing recognition that in-person tuition must take precedence, testing will be an important resource to implement policies such as Test to Stay. Robust testing allows schools to stay resilient to COVID-19.

Amesh A. Adalja, MD

Elder Scholar

Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security

Disclosure: Adalja does not report any relevant financial information.

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