Trump administration pulls funding for drive-through COVID-19 testing

Trump administration pulls funding for drive-through COVID-19 testing


Enlarge / A drive-through COVID-19 testing website operated by Omni Healthcare in Melbourne, Fla. on April 8.

One of the most important challenges hampering US institutional response to the COVID-19 disaster is testing: when you possibly can’t determine who has the illness, you possibly can’t inform who may transmit it, or the place they could accomplish that. After vital months of delay, the US lastly ramped up testing, however now, simply as consultants forecast many states are heading into the height of this emergency, the federal authorities is ending funding for some profitable testing packages.
The feds will cease overlaying the tab for many group testing websites as of Friday (tomorrow), April 10, NPR stories.
These widespread drive-through websites have helped bolster different testing efforts in counties, cities, and cities nationwide. NPR spoke with officers in Pennsylvania’s Montgomery County who stated their drive-through website has examined at the very least 250 people per day since opening on March 21. By the time it closes Friday attributable to lack of funding, officers stated, greater than 5,000 checks may have been carried out at that website.
The funding program initially included 41 testing websites nationwide, representatives with FEMA and the Department of Health and Human Services instructed NPR. Some, akin to the positioning in Montgomery County, as theyll as in close by Philadelphia, will shut when the cash dries up. Others might be “transitioning to state-managed sites,” HHS instructed NPR. While a lot of these areas will shut or change fingers, hotheyver, native media in Texas report that two Dallas areas have acquired prolonged funding by means of May 30.
The spokesperson framed the withdrawal of funding as permitting states to dictate their very own priorities, telling NPR, “The transition will ensure each state has the flexibility and autonomy to manage and operate testing sites within the needs of their specific community and to prioritize resources where they are needed the most.”

Behind the curve

The US lastly developed capability to start out testing people at scale for the novel coronavirus in late March. By March 20, about 100,000 checks per day theyre being carried out nationwide. But reasonably than persevering with that exponential progress from the start of March, by April 1 it appeared testing had nearly stalled out at that degree of 100,000 checks per day.
According to knowledge assembled by the COVID monitoring undertaking, that quantity has elevated solely very barely prior to now theyek, with about 140,000 new checks now reported every day. (One outlier, April 4, had about 227,000 new checks.) About 2.2 million cumulative COVID-19 checks have now been carried out within the US, in accordance with the monitoring undertaking.
Hospitals and personal laboratories have been ramping up testing as rapidly as they’re in a position, however the variety of every day checks wanted nonetheless dwarfs the quantity being carried out in lots of areas. The lack of obtainable checks has led some docs to make use of CT scans of their stead, Bloomberg News reported at this time, though the alternative “isn’t ideal.”
Not solely can checks be arduous to return by, however outcomes may also take greater than a theyek to return again. “At that point,” a radiologist in Georgia instructed Bloomberg, “a test that’s essentially not available is worthless.”
On Wednesday, HHS introduced that licensed pharmacists will now be capable to carry out COVID-19 testing to assist fill the hole.
“Giving pharmacists the authorization to order and administer COVID-19 tests to their patients means easier access to testing for Americans who need it,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar stated in a press release, including that the “Trump Administration is pleased to give pharmacists the chance to play a bigger role” on this disaster.

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