May 5, 2020

FEMA: Federal Support to Expand National COVID-19 Testing Capabilities

Testing is critical to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and mitigate its threat to public health. President Trump has led a historic effort to revolutionize testing in the United States to confront this challenge. 

Under President Trump’s Guidelines for Opening America Up Again, states should meet at least five metrics before proceeding to a phased reopening which includes demonstrating a downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases over a 14-day period as well as maintaining a robust system for testing health care workers.  The Administration’s Opening Up America Again Testing Overviewand Testing Blueprint are designed to facilitate state development and implementation of the robust testing plans and rapid response programs described in the guidelines.  

To support the Administration’s Testing Blueprint, FEMA, at the direction of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, is working to source and procure testing material – specifically, testing swabs and transport media.  The FEMA-sourced material will be provided to states, territories and tribes for a limited duration to help increase testing capacity in support of their individualized reopening and testing plans.  Once sourced and procured, the intent is to have this material shipped directly to the necessary location within each state, territory or tribe for their ultimate distribution. Each state, territory and tribal will develop its own distribution strategy to align with its testing plan and unique needs.

Actions to Increase Testing

As part of the whole-of-America response, HHS and FEMA lead a joint federal Laboratory Diagnostics Task Force focused on multiple paths to increase nationwide COVID-19 testing and support to governors nationwide to have the equipment, supplies, and testing resources needed to reopen safely and responsibly. Key actions taken by this Task Force include: 

Community-Based Testing Sites

The Community-Based Testing Sites (CBTS) program, a short-term, high-impact initiative, was developed for states, local public health agencies, healthcare systems, and commercial partners as they work together to stop the spread of COVID-19 in their communities. This program focused initially on healthcare facility workers and first responders who are working around the clock to provide care and ensure the safety of Americans and now provides testing to asymptomatic and symptomatic individuals per the CDC testing criteria.

Federal Reimbursement of Testing

This post was originally published here.