HHS funds testing in schools and underserved communities

March 18, 2021

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will provide $10 billion from the American Rescue Plan to ramp up surveillance testing at schools and $2.25 billion to scale up testing in underserved populations. The department also plans to provide new guidance on asymptomatic surveillance testing in schools, workplaces, and congregate settings, according to a news release from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The money for schools will support COVID-19 surveillance testing for teachers, staff and students, with a goal of reopening schools safely for in-person instruction. Recognizing that establishing a testing program is new for many schools, the CDC and state and local health departments will provide technical assistance to help schools develop testing programs.

The CDC also will invest $2.25 billion to address COVID-19-related health disparities and advance health equity among high-risk and underserved populations, including racial and ethnic minority groups and people living in rural areas. Grants to public health departments will improve testing and contact tracing capabilities and help to develop innovative mitigation and prevention resources and services.

To further assist with testing programs, the CDC also plans to post updated testing recommendations for how to use screening testing to identify, track, and mitigate asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19.

The guidance will provide information on the categories of tests used to detect COVID-19 and the intended strategies for use of those tests, including to diagnose infection, to screen, and to monitor trends in infection. This guidance also will include considerations for health equity in testing; choosing a test; and guidance for specific settings (e.g., non-healthcare workplaces, correctional facilities, shelters and other settings).

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