White House beefs up testing to keep schools open

Health

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The Biden administration announced an enhanced program Wednesday aimed at increasing student and school staff access to COVID-19 testing and at keeping schools open for full-time, in-person learning.

The White House plan includes sending 5 million no-cost point-of-care rapid tests each month to K-12 schools to implement and sustain screening, testing and test-to-stay programs in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance. It provides 5 million additional lab-based PCR tests to schools each month to perform individual and pooled testing in classrooms nationwide.

Federal surge testing units will also be deployed to support testing access for students, school staff and families at community testing sites to ensure hardest-hit and highest-risk communities have equitable access to free and convenient testing.

The plan would also connect schools with COVID-19 testing providers to set up school testing programs using American Rescue Plan Funds, and fund new training, resources and materials for implementing test-to-stay in schools.

The administration’s plan builds on the more than $10 billion in investments it has made in setting up testing programs in K-12 schools.

The program comes amid a spike in cases driven by the highly contagious omicron variant of COVID-19 and as school districts in Chicago and across the country have wrestled with balancing the desire for in-person learning and the need to keep students and staff safe.

A record 1.35 million COVID-19 cases in one day were reported in the United States on Tuesday, the highest daily total for any country in the world, according to a Reuters tally.

The previous record had been 1.03 million cases Jan. 3, Reuters reported.

For the past two weeks, the seven-day average for new cases in the U.S. has tripled to more than 700,000 new infections a day.

This wasn’t the only COVID-19 record the United States broken this week. On Monday, COVID-19 hospitalizations in the country reached an all-time high, according to another Reuters tally, as 132,646 people were hospitalized with the virus. The last time hospitalizations were this high was in January of last year, when they were at 132,051.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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