The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has released the names of 636 nursing homes set to receive the first batch of COVID-19 point-of-care test devices.
As the agency indicated earlier this month, these facilities are located in “hot spots,” or those areas where the virus is spreading the most rapidly. A preponderance of this first grouping of facilities is in California, Florida, Texas, Alabama, Arizona, North Carolina and South Carolina.
CMS, which first disclosed the point-of-care testing program on July 14, has prioritized more than 3,900 nursing homes to receive instruments and tests in the coming weeks, the agency said in a frequently asked questions sheet. Once those shipments are complete, the Department of Health and Human Services will continue a phased distribution of antigen testing supplies to nursing homes with a current CLIA Certificate of Waiver and based on updated epidemiological data.
Besides a current CLIA Certificate of Waiver, CMS is prioritizing facilities with the following criteria: three or more confirmed or suspected new cases of COVID-19 in the last seven days; at least one new COVID-19 case in the last seven days after having zero previous COVID-19 cases; inadequate access to testing in the last seven days; at least one new resident death due to COVID-19 in the last seven days; and at least one new confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case among staff in the last seven days.
Facilities will receive at least one Quidel Sofia 2 Instrument or Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD) Veritor™ Plus System over the coming months along with the associated FDA-authorized antigen diagnostic tests, CMS said. Each test takes about 20 minutes to perform. “However, it is possible to run tests in an assembly line fashion to test 20–30 samples per hour,” CMS said.
A point-of-care, or antigen test, runs about $25. That compares to approximately $100 for a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. While the cost and timeliness are positive attributes of the point-of-care tests, there are also some drawbacks, such as the sensitivity, which is less than a PCR test.