Governors cooperate on COVID-19 testing plan

Aug. 6, 2020

In the absence of a federal testing strategy, surging COVID-19 cases, and the looming 2020-21 school year, the governors of Maryland, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia—three Republicans and four Democrats—announced they joined a new interstate compact to receive more than 3 million point-of-care COVID-19 antigen tests. This information was reported according to a news report from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota.

The compact was negotiated via Larry Hogan, governor of Maryland and chair of the National Governors Association, and the Rockefeller Foundation. According to Hogan's office, the states are in discussions with Becton Dickinson and Quidel, U.S. manufacturers of antigen tests authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to buy 500,000 tests per state.

Rapid antigen tests deliver results within 30 minutes and can be used to quickly assess the scope of an outbreak in congregate settings, including nursing homes and schools. They are especially helpful—if readily available—in identifying asymptomatic people who may not seek out testing on their own.

"With severe shortages and delays in testing and the federal administration attempting to cut funding for testing, the states are banding together to acquire millions of faster tests to help save lives and slow the spread of COVID-19," said Hogan in a statement.

Ashish Jha, MD, MPH, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, praised the efforts on Twitter, and said antigen testing could help solve the testing crisis that has plagued the United States since February. More recently, states have complained about a lag time in testing results and a shortage in chemicals used to process the tests.

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