WASHINGTON, D.C. — The White House announced Wednesday that it’s on track to quadruple the nation’s supply of rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests available by December, and it's increasing the number of places Americans can access free testing.
The Biden administration said it plans to buy $1 billion worth of rapid, at-home coronavirus tests to help address ongoing shortages.
“Today, we’re making another billion-dollar investment to further mobilize testing manufacturers. This means companies will be able to expand production of tests even further based on the United States government’s commitment to procure another 180 million rapid tests over the course of the next year, with tens of millions more tests coming market over the course of the next 30 days,” said Jeff Zients, White COVID-19 Response Coordinator.
The U.S. was on track to double its supply of rapid homes tests available in the market each month by early November, but Zients revealed Wednesday that with the authorization of the new ACON test on Monday, the country is now on track to triple its supply by early November.
“And then today’s billion investment to further expand testing production puts us on track to quadruple the amount of at-home rapid tests available for Americans by December,” said Zients. “So, that means we’ll have an available supply of 200 million rapid at-home tests per month starting in December with a supply of tens of millions of additional tests coming on the market across the next few weeks.”
Zients added that the administration is increasing access to free testing by expanding the number of local pharmacies in its free testing program to 20,000.
“That’s 20,000 local pharmacies that will offer free testing through the federal government’s pharmacy program. This represents an eight-fold increase from when the president entered office and that’s on top of the 10,000 other community-based free testing sites in the country, many of which are supported by federal investments in community testing,” said Zients.
The announcements from the COVID-19 response team come as daily cases, deaths and hospitalizations from the delta variant-fueled summer surge continue to fall.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the fourth wave of the virus appears to be on the outs. The U.S. is currently seeing about 100,000 new cases of COVID-19 each day — a figure much higher than the early summer low of about 11,000 a day, but fewer than 125,000 a day that was recorded early last month.
The CDC also says that the average number of daily deaths has also fallen in the last two weeks from about 1,700 a day to a current rate of about 1,400 a day.
Finally, the CDC also says that new COVID-19 hospital admissions for people have all ages have fallen dramatically since late August.
While case rates are falling, the CDC still categorizes community transmission in the vast majority of the U.S. as "high" — the highest stage on a four-level scale.
The White House's briefing also comes just days after the U.S. surpassed 700,000 deaths from COVID-19 — a figure that continues to lead the world.