The Trump administration is promising to buy 100 million testing swabs and vials by the end of the year and distribute them to states as part of the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report to Congress obtained by CNN.
But the largest share of the responsibility to ramp up testing remains on the states themselves.
“State plans must establish a robust testing program that ensures adequacy of Covid-19 testing, including tests for contact tracing, and surveillance of asymptomatic persons to determine community spread. States must assure provisions are in place to meet future surge capacity testing needs including POC or other rapid result testing for local outbreaks,” said the 81-page report, called the Covid-19 Strategic Testing Plan.
The plan, first reported by The Washington Post, outlines testing targets each state is expected to report to the federal government, noting a 12.9 million nationwide testing target for the month of May. The US “will be capable of performing at least 40-50 million tests per month” by September, the report says, reiterating a previous White House projection.
As states reopen and lift restrictions, health experts have emphasized that adequate testing, which has been a central challenge since the beginning of the pandemic, is necessary to detect coronavirus and trace its spread.
The US has experienced significant challenges in testing, including flawed testing sent to states at the beginning of the pandemic that slowed containment efforts, lack of testing supplies to ensure Americans are properly tested and mixed messaging on who can get tested.
The White House has frequently emphasized what it sees as the states’ responsibility to handle testing, saying in a blueprint on testing last month that the federal government is the “supplier of last resort.”
“With support from the federal government to ensure states are meeting goals, the state plans for testing will advance the safe opening of America,” the newly reported plan says.
In the report, the administration recommends the states “have an objective of testing a minimum of 2% of their population in May and June, pending additional new data on infections and impact of reducing mitigation.”