The federal government delivered about 1 million point-of-care tests to nursing homes last week, according to a leading health official.
The federal government announced the point-of-care testing program for nursing homes in mid-July, pledging to provide the instruments and tests to the more than 15,000 nursing homes in the nation. Officials are now “delivering on [that] promise,” Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir said during a hearing on Friday.
“By the end of this week, we would have delivered — according to schedule — nearly 1 million point-of-care, or antigen, tests to the 1,019 of the highest-risk nursing homes. With another 664 nursing homes scheduled for next week,” Giroir told the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis on Friday.
“Protecting the elderly has been, is and will continue to be a foremost priority for this administration,” Giroir added.
Federal officials initially announced that 2,000 long-term care facilities in hot-spot areas would receive initial priority to receive the testing instruments and supplies. Along with the antigen test instruments, the government said it would provide around 400 tests per facility. In late July, CMS released the names of the first facilities to receive the POC tests.
Overall, the United States has conducted more than 59 million COVID-19 tests as of Friday, according to Giroir. While he stressed the importance of testing to combat the pandemic, he also added that “testing does not replace personal responsibility.”
“It does not substitute for avoiding crowded indoor spaces or washing hands or wearing a mask,” Giroir said. “A negative test does not mean that you won’t be positive tomorrow.”