Biden administration to expand COVID-19 testing

The administration is making three investments aimed at expanding COVID-19 testing across the country.

The federal government is making a trio of investments aimed at expanding testing as part of President Joe R. Biden’s National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness.

According to a news release from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), they and the Department of Defense (DOD) will invest $650 million in expanding COVID-19 testing opportunities for kindergarten through eighth grade school as well as underserved settings like homeless shelters. The departments will establish regional coordinating centers to organize the increased testing capacity and partner with laboratories across the country to help collect specimens, perform tests, and report the results to public health agencies for up to 25 million more tests a month.

HHS and DOD will also invest $815 million to increase domestic manufacturing of testing supplies and raw materials to create more domestic sources and expanding facilities to increase production capacity, the release says.

Finally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is seeking to increase genomic sequencing of the virus to prepare for variants by investing about $200 million to expand capabilities like bioinformatics, reporting, and modeling. The CDC will leverage large commercial labs, academic and research labs, small-to-medium commercial labs, and federal labs to increase sequencing capacity as needed based on the trajectory of the pandemic, according to the release.

"The Department of Health and Human Services is committed to ensuring that we expand COVID-19 testing capabilities and invest in a diverse array of testing technology, capacity, and human resources to identify and contain the spread of the virus," HHS Acting Secretary Norris Cochran says in the release. “As part of the President’s national strategy to combat COVID-19, we will deploy every available resource to ensure that more individuals and families have access to testing options during this unprecedented time and that our nation is prepared to contain and prevent the spread of possible variants.”