A bipartisan group of 7 US governors banded together to purchase COVID-19 testing equipment in the absence of a strong federal testing program

Sunil Ghosh/Hindustan Times via Getty ImagesNOIDA, INDIA – AUGUST 2: A box of rapid antigen test kits pictured while a health worker wearing PPE coveralls collects a swab sample from a woman to test for coronavirus infection, at Sector 5, on August 2, 2020 in Noida, India.
  • Seven states – Maryland, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, North, Carolina, and Virginia – have entered into an agreement to purchase 3.5 million COVID-19 tests.
  • “With severe shortages and delays in testing and the federal [Trump] 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,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said in a statement.
  • The states are purchasing antigen tests, which can produce results in less than 20 minutes.
  • However, according to the US Food and Drug Administration, “antigen tests have a higher chance of missing an active infection.”
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Seven governors from across the United States have joined together to bulk purchase coronavirus tests, it was announced Tuesday.

“With severe shortages and delays in testing and the federal [Trump] 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,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said in a statement.

The agreement, made with the Rockefeller Foundation, will result in each signatory receiving 500,000 antigen tests from private manufacturers. Those signatories include Maryland, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina, and Virginia.

Antigen tests, which entail collecting fluids from a nasal or throat swab, can deliver results in less than 20 minutes, allowing states to rapidly detect and control outbreaks of COVID-19. However, accuracy can be an issue: according to the US Food and Drug Administration, “antigen tests have a higher chance of missing an active infection.”

Nevertheless, the ability to rapidly test large amounts of people is appealing not just to governors but public health experts: as Harvard University’s Dr. Thomas Tsai told Business Insider, such testing is essential if there is to be any hope of safely opening the economy.

“So clearly, a coordinated strategy needs to happen,” Tsai said last month. “If it can’t happen at the federal level for political reasons, then it needs to happen at the state level. So governors need to work together and form interstate compacts and collaboratives to coordinate testing and social distancing policy on the regional level and that also translates down to within a state to coordinate that effort county to county.”

Under the agreement, the Rockefeller Foundation will work to facilitate the financing of the interstate testing arrangement, which is open to new members.

“Widespread testing is one of the most crucial tools we have to stop the spread of this virus and save lives,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, said in a press release. “I’m hopeful that the president and Congress will follow our lead and work together on a recovery package that includes support for states like ours so we can continue to protect our families.”

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