The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Friday that more than 59 million covid-19 tests have now been completed nationally—averaging more than 810,000 per day over the previous 7 days. In July, the percentage of lab tests that were completed within 3 days was 45; over the last 7 days of the month, it was more than 56.
“We continue to see signs of progress across the country and across the Sunbelt,” says Adm. Brett P. Giroir, MD, HHS assistant secretary for health. “We have hot spots in which we are aggressively intervening, but our message is clear and the Administration is in alignment: We can control outbreaks by avoiding crowded indoor spaces, like bars and restaurants. It is critically important to wear face masks and practice good hand hygiene. All of these actions, along with deployments of surge testing and public health strike teams to hotspot areas, are beginning to show lower prevalence of the virus.”
The following actions are being taken to decrease covid-19 testing turnaround times:
- Accelerating Technology and Authorizations: Quest and LabCorp—among the major commercial laboratories—have both received emergency use authorizations for tests using pooled samples to increase efficiency and reduce testing turnaround time.
- Surge Testing: HHS is standing up temporary federal surge testing sites in partnership with communities experiencing outbreaks. Covid-19 surge testing sites are currently operational in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; New Orleans; Bakersfield, California; and Miami.
- Expanding Capacity: HHS continuously works with commercial labs and government partners to expand covid-19 testing capacity. Last Sunday, LabCorp announced they had reduced the average time to deliver test results to 2 to 3 days (from specimen pickup).
- Point-of-Care: HHS is sending point-of-care tests to every nursing home in the nation. In the first 4 weeks of this program, 2,400 point-of-care testing machines will be sent to nursing homes along with associated tests to help anticipate outbreaks for the most vulnerable while also reducing lab capacity in the commercial lab space.
For more information, visit HHS.