COVID-19 Resource Center

COVID-19 Resource Center

Perspective from Amesh A. Adalja, MD
Source:

The White House. Fact sheet: Biden-Harris Administration increases COVID-19 testing in schools to keep students safe and schools open. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/01/12/fact-sheet-biden-harris-administration-increases-covid-19-testing-in-schools-to-keep-students-safe-and-schools-open/. Accessed Jan. 12, 2022.

Disclosures: Walensky and Zients report no relevant financial disclosures.
January 12, 2022
2 min read
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Biden administration to send 10 million COVID-19 tests to schools per month

Perspective from Amesh A. Adalja, MD
Source:

The White House. Fact sheet: Biden-Harris Administration increases COVID-19 testing in schools to keep students safe and schools open. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/01/12/fact-sheet-biden-harris-administration-increases-covid-19-testing-in-schools-to-keep-students-safe-and-schools-open/. Accessed Jan. 12, 2022.

Disclosures: Walensky and Zients report no relevant financial disclosures.
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The Biden administration on Wednesday announced it will send 10 million COVID-19 tests — five million rapid tests and five million lab-based PCR tests — to K-12 schools each month to help keep them open during the omicron surge.

According to the administration, 96% of schools in the country are currently open compared with 46% of schools in January 2021.

Source: Adobe Stock.
The Biden administration announced that it will send 10 million COVID-19 tests to schools each month. Source: Adobe Stock.

“The omicron variant is driving unprecedented demand for testing, so we need to ensure school leaders have the support they need to meet that demand,” Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 Response Team coordinator, said during a press briefing.

States can submit requests for additional tests for districts in need, the administration noted. It already provided $130 billion from the American Rescue Plan to help school reopen and an additional $10 billion to support COVID-19 testing in schools.

Additionally, the Biden administration announced that HHS and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are collaborating with state, territorial and tribal partners to address testing needs in the community and to stand up federal testing sites.

The CDC last month released guidance on “test-to-stay” — an approach that allows students to stay in school during their quarantine period if they remain masked and are tested at least twice in the 7 days following exposure. Later this week, the CDC will release additional training materials for schools to implement the strategy.

Officials announced during the briefing that Tom Inglesby, MD, will lead the federal COVID-19 testing program. Inglesby was previously the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

“We continue to work across multiple fronts to increase Americans’ access to testing, and we're all very, very grateful for his willingness to lead these efforts,” Zients said.

It was also announced that Pfizer’s COVID-19 antiviral — Paxlovid, which recently received an emergency use authorization from the FDA — will be available by the end of June. The U.S. has purchased 20 million treatment courses, and 10 million will be available by the end of June, Zients said.

The omicron variant now accounts for 98% of American cases, CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, said during the briefing.

According to Walensky, a preprint study from Kaiser Permanente Southern California that compared more than 52,000 cases of COVID-19 caused by the omicron variant with nearly 17,000 cases caused by delta found that cases caused by omicron were associated with a 53% reduction in hospitalizations, a 74% reduction in ICU admission and a 91% reduction in mortality. No patients with omicron required mechanical ventilation, she said.

Rochelle P. Walensky

“Additionally, this study found that those infected with omicron who were hospitalized had a shorter duration of hospital stay compared to those with delta,” Walensky said.

“The data in this study remained consistent with what we are seeing from omicron in other countries, including South Africa and the U.K., and provide some understanding of what we can expect over the coming weeks as cases are predicted to peak in this country.”

Reference:

Lewnard JA, et al. medRxiv. 2022;doi:10.1101/2022.01.11.22269045.