Update: On May 26, 2021, DoD awarded three agreements totaling $650 million to Clinical Enterprise, Inc. (Eurofins), PerkinElmer Health Sciences, Inc., and Battelle Memorial Institute all to support the government’s efforts to expand domestic COVID-19 testing for K-8 schools, underserved populations, and congregate settings such as homeless shelters through regional hubs. The original announcement about the hub program was made February 17.
The COVID-19 Testing and Diagnostics Working Group (TDWG) develops testing-related guidance and provides targeted investments to expand the available testing supply and maximize testing capacity. Specifically, this group seeks to:
- Understand the diagnostic supply chain, including projected production and potential constraints and bottlenecks
- Work with state public health and laboratory leadership, diagnostics manufacturers, and commercial labs throughout the country
- Provide technical assistance to leverage existing testing infrastructure and resources based on available tests
- Distribute certain testing supplies, focusing primarily on point-of-care technologies, to support states' testing goals
Priority COVID-19 Testing of Individuals
The list below is a high-level summary based on CDC guidance on who should be tested for COVID-19. States and other entities may consider this information when making decisions about testing strategies.
High Priority Testing
- Hospitalized patients with symptoms
- Healthcare facility workers, workers in congregate living settings, and first responders with symptoms
- Residents in long-term care facilities or other congregate living settings, including correctional and detention facilities and shelters, with symptoms
- Persons with symptoms of potential COVID-19 infection, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, new loss of taste or smell, vomiting or diarrhea and/or sore throat
- Persons without symptoms who come from racial and ethnic minority groups disproportionately affected by adverse COVID-19 outcomes-currently African Americans, Hispanics and Latinos, some American Indian tribes (e.g., Navajo Nation).
- Persons without symptoms who are prioritized by health departments or clinicians, including but not limited to public health monitoring, sentinel surveillance, presence of underlying medical condition or disability, residency in a congregate housing setting such as a homeless shelter or long-term care facility, or screening of other asymptomatic individuals according to state and local plans.
Answer: Testing should be prioritized for individuals with symptoms. Testing of asymptomatic persons in certain settings (e.g., nursing homes, homeless shelters, prisons) may be warranted for the purposes of surveillance, cohorting of individuals in congregate living settings, and public health investigations of outbreak clusters.
Here is a list of select federal guidance related to COVID-19 testing.
- Guidance for Expanded Screening to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19
- COVID-19 Surveillance Guidance including case-based surveillance based on nucleic acid testing
- COVID-19 Point-of-Care Testing Guidance for state and local health departments or healthcare providers
- COVID-19 Guidance for Long-Term Care Facilities
- COVID-19 Serology Testing Guidance
March 17, 2021 Announcement: As part of the American Rescue Plan, HHS will invest over $12 billion dollars to expand COVID-19 testing nationwide, specifically to support school reopening and promote equity.
February 17, 2021 Announcement: Efforts to expand access to COVID-19 testing across the country include improving the availability of tests, increasing manufacturing of testing supplies, and increasing research on variants.
Answer: At present, the surveillance strategy for vulnerable populations is to have baseline testing at sufficient levels to detect outbreaks. This continues to be done in highly vulnerable populations such as the example of federally qualified health centers. Staff are also surveyed in nursing homes and assisted living centers regularly. This is an important surveillance strategy and we use it every day to determine policy recommendations.
View the archive for the National COVID-19 Testing Implementation Forum.
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