testing

White House announces major improvements in coronavirus testing (again)




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WASHINGTON — The setting was familiar, and so were the assurances. Speaking from the Rose Garden on Monday afternoon, President Trump promised a “massive and groundbreaking expansion” in the nation’s ability to perform diagnostic tests for the coronavirus. 

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“We are now at an inflection point in testing,” said Adm. Brett Giroir, a high-ranking Department of Health and Human Services official who is in charge of testing on the White House coronavirus task force. He said that 920,000 coronavirus diagnostic tests were now being performed nationwide each day. Some 7 million Americans have tested positive.

The expansion was made possible by Abbott Laboratories, whose rapid BinaxNOW test can return results in mere minutes without requiring the intrusive nasal swab that can make a coronavirus test an acutely unpleasant experience. 

The Trump administration purchased 150 million such tests for $760 million. They will go to nursing homes, schools and other institutions, including historically Black colleges and universities. 

Trump first promised that any American could get a coronavirus test in early March. That was untrue at the time, and though the availability of tests has greatly increased, shortages persist in the United States. So do days-long waits to receive results from laboratories. The BinaxNOW test does not need to be sent to a laboratory.

Ever the nation’s cheerleader, Trump tried to use Monday’s announcement as a pivot away from a summer marked by persistently high death counts and fears of a second lockdown.

“We’re rounding the corner,” Trump said on Monday afternoon. He said much the same thing from the Rose Garden in May, telling the nation that “we have met the moment, and we have prevailed.” In subsequent weeks and months, COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, while receding in New York and other early hot

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URI cancels spring break; nursing homes to take on testing

KINGSTON, R.I. (AP) — A look at developments related to the coronavirus in New England on Saturday.

RHODE ISLAND

The University of Rhode Island has joined a growing number of U.S. colleges canceling spring break to reduce travel and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

University officials announced the measure Friday evening, a week after the Faculty Senate approved the change, according to The Providence Journal. It was also supported by university President David Dooley.

Classes will continue from March 22 to 28, the period originally set aside as spring break, and the semester will end on April 27, a week earlier than initially planned.

In a statement announcing the change, officials cited “uncertainty” created by the virus, “and the need to prepare for the likely persistence of existing outbreaks and potential for a new wave of infections.”

Several large universities have announced similar measures in recent weeks, including Ohio State University, the University of Kentucky and the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE

Nursing homes in New Hampshire will be in charge of testing their staff for the coronavirus starting next month.

The state Department of Health and Human Services has been operating a surveillance testing program in long term care facilities, but in mid-October will start transitioning that to individual facilities, Commissioner Lori Shibinette said last week.

The state is recommending facilities test all staff during the same week once a month, and then every other week test 10% of staff chosen at random. The state will reimburse them at $100 per test, she said.

Having the nursing homes run their own programs will allow the state to start similar surveillance programs elsewhere, including in assisted living communities and correctional facilities, Shibinette said.

As many as 20 nursing homes once were dealing with coronavirus outbreaks at

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Nursing homes to organize their own COVID testing as state focuses on testing in jails, homeless shelters | Health

The state Department of Health and Human Services has been negotiating with COVID-19 testing labs to run the state’s regular testing of nursing home staff, but announced last week that nursing homes will soon have to organize those tests themselves.

Each facility will make its own contracts with testing labs, Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette told nursing home administrators in a phone conference last week, and the state will reimburse up to $100 per test.

“It still provides the funding and the support that is needed to have a good surveillance program,” Shibinette said.

In the event of another outbreak at a nursing home, Shibinette said, the state will again organize and pay for testing. The state provided nursing home administrators with a list of labs that can process tests and contact information for each, and Shibinette expects most nursing homes to have contracts and be running their own testing programs in two weeks.

Shibinette said she hoped turning over that responsibility to nursing homes would free up the state’s capacity to organize regular testing in other congregate living settings, including homeless shelters and jails, to detect more cases early.

The state still dictates how often the tests need to be conducted, what kinds of tests are used and how many staff need to be tested.

Every fourth week, all nursing homes will have to test their entire staff. On the other weeks, nursing homes will randomly pick 10% of their staff to get tested.

But the cost of testing can vary. Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center charges $102 for COVID tests, according to the hospital’s website. A review of COVID test prices by the Peterson Center on Healthcare and the Kaiser Family Foundation https://www.healthsystemtracker.org/brief/covid-19-test-prices-and-payment-policy/ found wide variation in how much tests cost. Some providers charge less than $50 per

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