President Trump on Monday announced a plan to distribute 100 million rapid COVID-19 tests to states by the end of the year, strongly urging governors to use them to help schools reopen.
The Abbott tests, which are cheaper and faster than lab tests, return results in about 15 minutes and are already widely used in nursing homes under a program set up by the Trump administration.
“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 at a press conference from the Rose Garden.
The Trump administration’s announcement comes as experts warn of a surge of new coronavirus cases in the fall and winter, when the cold weather drives people indoors, aiding the virus’s spread.
Already, 32 states are seeing increases in COVID-19 cases, pushing the U.S. to an average of 43,000 new cases per day — a 23 percent increase from the average just two weeks ago, according to a New York Times tracker.
The increase in cases, mainly driven by states in the Midwest and Great Plains, is likely due to multiple factors, including college campuses reopening, large gatherings, the lifting of restrictions on businesses and increased activity around Labor Day weekend.
The president didn’t specifically address the rise in new cases Monday, but stated that as the U.S. increases its testing capacity, “we will identify more cases and asymptomatic individuals in low-risk populations.”
The new tests could be beneficial for schools, experts say.