Indian Health Service, rural areas to have priority access to rapid coronavirus tests

Rapid point-of-care coronavirus tests will be used to support areas of the country with the least access to testing, as well as nursing homes, White House coronavirus coordinator Deborah Birx told reporters today.

“These are new tests, and we have prioritized the groups that we think have the least access to testing now,” Birx said. Priority will be given to the Indian Health Service and rural areas that do not have access to labs that perform high-volume coronavirus tests, she said.

Rapid tests will also be given to public health labs to support fast testing of nursing homes, where close surveillance is critical given how deadly the virus is for the elderly, according to Birx. The administration is also examining if point-of-care machines can be loaned to hot spots in states experiencing outbreaks.

President Donald Trump took a rapid 15-minute coronavirus test this morning that came back negative. Abbott Laboratories recently gained FDA emergency authorization for a point-of-care test that can return results in a similar time frame. The company has said it will eventually be able to manufacture 50,000 of the tests per day.


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