Rollout of rapid COVID-19 tests hindered by lack of planning, communication, states say

Deployment of rapid COVID-19 antigen tests to facilities around the country has been hindered by poor communication, false results and a lack of planning, state leaders told The Washington Post

Health officials in several states have said they haven’t had any say in where the new tests are being sent and sometimes aren’t told which nursing homes to send them to until the night before a shipment arrives. 

A lack of communication has also left some facilities ill-trained in how to use the tests, which may be contributing to false positive results, the Post reported. 

The government hasn’t given the states guidance on how to capture results from the new tests, meaning daily nationwide counts of infections and tests are becoming more inaccurate. 

“This is data we need, and there’s just no way of capturing it,” Pennsylvania’s health secretary, Rachel Levine, told the Post. “We need a reporting structure and not just hundreds of faxes being randomly sent from nursing homes and other facilities.”

Some states are trying to create their own systems for capturing and classifying the test results, but this could cause differing datasets, making it harder to track infections during the winter, when infections are expected to spike, the Post reported. 

After receiving complaints from state officials, HHS said Sept. 28 that governors would have more say in where future test shipments go. That day, the agency announced that it would begin shipping millions of rapid COVID-19 antigen tests from Abbott to states this week.

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US begins sending 100M rapid COVID-19 tests to states
FDA authorizes first point-of-care antibody test for COVID-19


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