‘Game changer:’ Trump targets virus tests to blacks, school children, nursing homes, disaster areas

The Trump administration has put a focus on nursing homes, hospices, school children, black colleges, first responders and Native Americans in its expanding effort to distribute for free 150 million coronavirus tests to states.

Mike Pence wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump arrives in the Rose Garden with Vice President Mike Pence Monday to speak about coronavirus testing shipments to states.

© Evan Vucci/AP
President Donald Trump arrives in the Rose Garden with Vice President Mike Pence Monday to speak about coronavirus testing shipments to states.

In a coordinated effort capped by Vice President Mike Pence’s hour-long call with 43 governors to finalize the plan, the administration is prioritizing areas where the infections are 5%-10% and first responders.

What’s more, the administration through the Department of Health and Human Services is coordinating needed training for the Abbott BinaxNOW tests.

The new effort won praise from New Jersey’s Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy who told Pence in the Monday roll-out call, “Thank you Mr. Vice President and the whole team, thank you for everything but certainly thanks for today. This is a game changer, we’re proud of the testing regime that we have built with your great partnership with a lot of people in that room.”

Some media reports have claimed that the effort, spelled out Monday, has suffered from coordination hangups.

But Michael Bars, a White House senior communications adviser, said the planning has been in the works since Trump announced the effort in a March Rose Garden event.

“In March, President Trump called for an aggressive private-public partnership to advance testing capabilities in the United States – now six months later we are witnessing this promise in action with over 112 million tests already completed nationwide to assist high-risk Americans and vulnerable communities. The truth is that while some states have been under prepared, the president’s unprecedented commitment of over 150 million state-of-the-art, rapid point-of-care tests is a game-changer for the expansion state testing strategies to stop the spread of the virus and save lives,” he said.

Trump in a letter to governors shown below said that they can use 100 million for their top priorities, a pattern the White House has followed during the virus crisis. “We hope you will use them in ways to further open up your states by protecting vulnerable people,” he said, citing school children, nursing and assisted living homes, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, those hit by natural disasters like the recent fires and hurricanes, and Native American communities.

“This is a major development that will help save more lives by further protecting America’s most vulnerable and allowing our country to get Americans back to work and children back to school,” he added.

Said Bars, “The administration has conducted extensive outreach to ensure all states have been provided comprehensive material detailing FDA-authorized use as well relevant…guidance. Also provided has been shipping information and specific allocation strategies for nursing homes, assisted living facilities, home health and hospice agencies, HBCUs, the Indian Health Service, and more. The administration has provided every state with critical training information to help ensure the tests are properly shipped, stored and administered, accurately read, and then promptly reported. In fact, reporting BinaxNow test results can be done seamlessly through the mobile app.”

While some reports suggested that the tests are still to be delivered, the administration said that thousands have already gone out. For example, some 5 million tests have been shipped to nursing homes in need and the 100 million set for state use are to start going out this week.

They will more than double the 100 million tests already done and are set to hit 3 million a day next month.

The administration has been cheering its testing and said that infections are not surging. A background document provided to Secrets said, “The overall positivity rate is less than 5% over the past week with a continuing trend of decreasing positivity, testing turnaround time averages 1.5 days, and the percent positive is decreasing among all age groups.”

Some numbers from the administration:

  • 249,000 BinaxNOW tests have been delivered to HBCUs. Another 300,000 are going out in the next two weeks.
  • Over 2.2 million BinaxNOW tests have gone to 7,600 nursing homes in counties where there is more than minimal community spread.
  • 968,000 tests have been delivered to 5,646 assisted living centers.
  • 300,000 BinaxNOW tests have been sent to tribes through the Indian Health Service.

Tags: Washington Secrets, Donald Trump, HHS, Coronavirus

Original Author: Paul Bedard

Original Location: ‘Game changer:’ Trump targets virus tests to blacks, school children, nursing homes, disaster areas

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