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 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.

  • Early evidence shows children could be contributing to the spread, especially in older and more vulnerable adults, despite the less severe immune response the virus appears to cause in young people.

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."

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