The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released all July-December COVID-19 testing plans, which are separated by state, territory, and locality. These plans outline all goals and procedures for coronavirus testing per state and provide a framework to build on moving forward into the last part of the year. All state plans are available to the general public on the HHS website.
New Testing Plans
State governors assembled teams to work alongside HHS and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) experts to complete these plans since early April. In the HHS plans, the responsibility of managing testing programs is placed directly on state governments, though the programs are federally supported. Teams submitted their proposed May-June plans on May 30 and their July-December plans on July 10.
Each plan includes details on reaching vulnerable populations, a list of all laboratories and testing facilities and their testing capacities, and strategies to test a minimum of 2% of the population each month while increasing that percentage by fall 2020. Target numbers and goals vary by state, but each area must confirm that they are equipped to provide adequate SARS-CoV-2 testing, including surveillance for asymptomatic patients and contact tracing methods.
Why do we need more testing?
Recent surges in COVID cases have put a strain on testing efforts, as there are not enough tests to keep up with the number of individuals who need to be tested. Hospitals need faster, more effective testing methods to identify infected individuals and quarantine them in an efficient and timely manner. The HHS estimates that the national demand for testing is millions above the current level of tests being processed.
Price increases and longer wait times between getting tested and receiving results will continue until a more effective system, like the one proposed by the HHS, is put in place. The Federal Government began distributing low supply testing materials to individual states in May, but the number of individuals needing to be tested is growing at a rate faster than materials can be procured. By enacting these testing plans, America may start to see a positive development in the number of active coronavirus cases.
These state testing plans will aid the efforts of the White House’s Guidelines for Opening Up America Again initiative, a three-phased action plan intended to help states reopen their economies, allow people to go back to work, and to protect lives. The three phases each reintegrate business into everyday life. Throughout the process, individuals are still strongly encouraged to maintain good hygiene, practice social distancing, use face coverings, and avoid groups of 10 or more people who are unable to maintain a safe social distance.
Across the nation, organizations have put funding towards coronavirus research. In May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) awarded $10.25 billion to states, territories, and localities to aid in implementing these testing plans. In late July, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) invested $248.7 million in new technologies that would address and remedy COVID+ related testing challenges after investing $1.5 billion in the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative this past April.
If you are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus such as fever, cough shortness of breath, or any other symptom defined by the CDC consult with your doctor.
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