Biden administration to invest over $1.6 billion to expand Covid testing, sequencing

The Forum in Inglewood, California began vaccination distribution serving as a COVID-19 vaccination site, while also serving as a COVID-19 testing site.

Al Seib | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images

The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it will invest more than $1.6 billion to increase Covid-19 testing supplies and expand testing programs in schools and elsewhere as well as genomic sequencing in the United States.

“We need to test broadly and rapidly to turn the tide of this pandemic,” Carole Johnson, the White House’s Covid-19 testing coordinator, said at a press briefing. “But we still don’t have enough testing and we don’t have enough testing in all the places it needs to be.”

The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense will invest $650 million to expand testing in K-8 schools and “underserved congregate settings, such as homeless shelters,” the White House said. It added that HHS will establish regional coordinating centers to organize the distribution of testing supplies and partner with labs across the country, including universities and commercial labs, to conduct testing.

HHS and DOD will also invest $815 million to increase domestic manufacturing of testing supplies and raw materials that have created shortage issues.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will invest an additional $200 million into its genomic sequencing efforts to help track new variants of the coronavirus in the U.S. The CDC will ramp up its sequencing efforts from 7,000 samples per week to about 25,000 per week, the White House said.

Johnson said the funding is meant to increase testing in the short term, but called on Congress to pass President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion aid package, which includes funding for testing.

This is breaking news. Check back here for updates.

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