Trump to launch short-term 'surge' COVID-19 testing in hot spot cities

Trump to launch short-term 'surge' COVID-19 testing in hot spot cities
© Reuters/Pool

The Trump administration is launching new "surge" coronavirus testing sites in some of the hardest-hit communities in Florida, Texas and Louisiana.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said the free COVID-19 testing sites will be located in Jacksonville, Fla., Baton Rouge, La., and Edinburg, Texas, beginning Tuesday. 

The surge will last between five and 12 days, and the sites will be able to conduct 5,000 tests per day in each city. It should take between three and five days for someone who is tested to get their results.

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According to HHS, the three cities are seeing significant increases in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations and "could potentially benefit from additional opportunities to identify new cases, especially for people who are asymptomatic."

Testing will be available to individuals 5 years and older, including those experiencing symptoms, those who believe they may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and those who are worried about having the virus.

Testing capacity in hot spots has been strained by massive increases in demand, resulting in excessively long waits for results and shortages of testing materials. 

According to HHS officials, identifying the asymptomatic carriers of the virus who previously would have gone undetected can help states flatten the infection curve. 

Across the nation, the largest increases in COVID-19 positivity rates continue to be in the 18-to-29 age group; however, there are also upticks in young people under 18 and in people aged 30 to 39.

Adm. Brett Giroir, the HHS assistant secretary for health and the administration's testing czar, told reporters they may set up surge testing in other states in the future if the program is successful.