President Trump on Monday announced that his administration will begin distributing 150 million rapid coronavirus tests, including 100 million to states and another 50 million tests to vulnerable communities.
“In the old days when we just started this you remember we’d go out and we’d have to find these massive laboratories with tremendously expensive equipment. Now we’re down to something that you’ll see that is really from a different planet,” Trump said Monday during a press conference at the White House.
The president said that 50 million tests will be sent to vulnerable communities including nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospice care providers, and colleges and universities that are historically black or in tribal nations.
Another 100 million tests will be sent to states to be used as governors see fit, although Trump encouraged governors to use the tests to help reopen schools.
“The support my administration is providing would allow every state to on a very regular basis test every teacher who needs it,” Trump said.
The first 6.5 million tests will be shipped to states this week. The tests, which cost $5 apiece and are produced by Abbott Laboratories, are less expensive than lab tests and show results in 15 minutes.
The administration’s effort comes as federal officials and health experts warn that a second wave of coronavirus infections could be imminent. Many states, most of them in the midwest, have seen their cases rise in recent weeks. On Saturday, Wisconsin reported its highest single-day case increase with 2,817 new coronavirus cases. Also on Saturday, New York logged more than 1,000 new cases for the first time since the beginning of June, just after the state spent weeks as the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak.
Since the outbreak began, the coronavirus has infected more than 7 million people in the U.S. and caused more than 204,000 deaths across the country.
In July, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Robert Redfield warned that the last few months of the year could be “one of the most difficult times” for American public health.