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530K COVID-19 point of care antigen tests coming to West Virginia

West Virginia

FILE – This file image provided by The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) shows SARS-CoV-2 (orange) the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (green) cultured in the lab. A new type of coronavirus test offers a cheaper, quicker way to screen for infections, moving the U.S. toward the kind of mass screening that experts say is essential to returning millions of Americans to school and work. But the first so-called antigen test _ announced Saturday, may 9, 2020 by the Food and Drug Administration _ is not quite the kind sought by top government health officials. It is less accurate than the current gold standard for testing and can only be run on specialized equipment. (NIAID-RML via AP)

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is sending 530,000 state-of-the-art Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 point of care antigen tests to the State of West Virginia.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says this is part of the Trump Administration’s comprehensive national effort to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and to assist the nation’s governors in doing so.

The HHS says the tests can diagnose coronavirus infection in fifteen minutes. The tests will be distributed at West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s discretion to support testing for K-12 students, teachers, nursing home patients and staff, higher education, critical infrastructure, first responders, and other priorities.

“To facilitate the continued re-opening of West Virginia schools, businesses and economy, the Trump Administration has prioritized scaling up the state’s point of care testing capacity by making this $760 million national investment in BinaxNOW tests,” said Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Brett Giroir, MD. “Distributing these rapid tests directly to states is consistent with the Trump Administration’s successful, ongoing approach of testing the right person, with the right test at the right time, is working and the effort will continue until the pandemic is under control.”

According to the HHS, the Trump Administration has shipped more than 85,000 COVID-19 rapid tests directly to congregate care settings such as West Virginia nursing homes, assisted living facilities and to historically Black colleges and universities in the state. They say more than 200,000 BinaxNOW tests have been shipped to West Virginia as of today, Monday, Oct. 26.

In preliminary feedback, the HHS says the officials in the Mountain State anticipate using BinaxNOW tests for schools and healthcare workforce.

Giroir said testing does not substitute for avoiding crowded indoor spaces, washing one’s hands, or wearing a mask when not able to physically distance.

“Combining personal responsibility with smart testing is a foundational pillar of the Administration’s national testing strategy,” Giroir said.

The HHS says the federal government purchased Abbot BinaxNOW diagnostic tests Aug. 27, the day after the Food and Drug Administration issued an Emergency Use Authorization, to ensure the first 150 million units would be distributed to vulnerable populations as quickly as possible.

The inital distributions to all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia are “well underway,” according to the HHS.

HHS has also provided all CLIA-certified nursing homes with more than 11 million rapid point of care tests, including Abbott BinaxNOW FDA-authorized antigen diagnostic tests and either a Quidel Sofia 2 or Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD) Veritor™ Plus System instrument(s) with associated tests.

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