U.S. officials said they will be dispatching test kits to screen for domestic cases of COVID-19 and promise legislation guaranteeing funding within the coming two weeks, according to Reuters.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar spoke before a House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee on Thursday, confirming that at least 40 public health labs should be able to test for cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
This is a measure to prevent local infection and continued community spread in the U.S.
Azar reportedly stated that newly manufactured tests from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can be sent to health care labs across the U.S. as soon as Monday. A separate, privately manufactured test based on the new CDC tests can also be sent to the same labs by tomorrow, depending on Federal Drug Administration (FDA) clearance.
The CDC has currently tested 3,625 specimens for the virus as of this morning, according to U.S. News.
Scott J. Becker, president of the Association of Public Health Laboratories, said that testing capability is “rapidly evolving” since the CDC and FDA are sending public health labs components of the original test kit. Becker is hopeful, however, that testing capacity across the country will increase within the coming days.
“I believe that we turned a corner in the last 24 hours and are moving in the right direction,” he said.