COVID-19 rates soar, free test program relaunches
The Biden Administration announced on Wednesday they are investing $600 million in COVID-19 test manufacturing and relaunching a website that will provide 4 free COVID-19 tests to households nationwide.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says the investment will help prevent a shortage of tests during the colder months, which typically brings a rise in COVID-19 cases. Households can begin ordering the tests from COVIDTests.gov on September 25.
“Manufacturing COVID-19 tests in the United States strengthens our preparedness for the upcoming fall and winter seasons, reduces our reliance on other countries, and provides good jobs to hardworking Americans,” said Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell. “ASPR’s investments in these domestic manufacturers will increase availability of tests in the future.”
The investment will be shared among 12 manufacturers across the U.S. that employ hundreds of workers. By focusing on domestic production, the Administration hopes to avoid the supply-chain issues that have plagued previous COVID-19 surges.
“The Biden-Harris Administration, in partnership with domestic manufacturers, has made great strides in addressing vulnerabilities in the U.S. supply chain by reducing our reliance on overseas manufacturing,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in the press release. “These critical investments will strengthen our nation’s production levels of domestic at-home COVID-19 rapid tests and help mitigate the spread of the virus.”
The tests are made to detect current variants of the COVID-19 virus and are set to expire by the end of 2023, according to the HHS. They will come with detailed instructions on how to identify the expiration date.
Tracking the rise in COVID-19 cases
COVID-19 cases are on the rise according to data from Biobot Analytics, a company that tests wastewater at 257 sites across the country.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirms that COVID-19 cases are crawling upward with a 7.7% increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Since the end of the Public Health Emergency (PHE) earlier this year, states are no longer required to report COVID-19-related data to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) but hospitals must still report COVID-19 cases to the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN).
Experts can glean valuable insights by tracking both numbers. CDC data shows what is here while wastewater data shows what is to come.