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Biden administration invests $10B in school COVID-19 testing program

Biden administration invests $10B in school COVID-19 testing program
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The Biden administration is investing $10 billion to ramp up COVID-19 testing in schools in an effort to increase testing across the country and help schools reopen for in-person learning.

The funding comes from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and will be distributed to states and certain cities next month by the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) as part of a strategy to help get schools open in the remaining months of this school year. 

The CDC and state and local health departments will provide technical assistance to states and schools setting up and implementing these programs. 

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The idea behind serial screening testing is to help schools identify asymptomatic people who may be contagious so that prompt action can be taken to prevent transmission. 

The testing funds are the Biden administration's latest effort to push for schools to reopen.

Earlier this month, President BidenJoe BidenBiden announces picks to lead oceans, lands agencies Overnight Defense: Top general concerned about Afghan forces after US troops leave | Pentagon chief: Climate crisis 'existential' threat to US national security | Army conducts review after 4 Black soldiers harassed at Virginia IHOP Feds expect to charge scores more in connection to Capitol riot MORE told states to prioritize vaccinating teachers. The administration is also investing $650 million to expand testing opportunities for K-8 schools and underserved congregate settings such as homeless shelters.

“COVID-19 testing is critical to saving lives and restoring economic activity,” acting Health and Human Services Secretary Norris Cochran said in a statement. “As part of the Biden Administration’s National Strategy, HHS will continue to expand our capacity to get testing to the individuals and the places that need it most, so we can prevent transmission of the virus and defeat the pandemic.”

At the same time, the CDC announced $2.25 billion in grants to public health departments for bolstered COVID-19 testing and contact tracing capabilities in underserved communities and populations, including racial and ethnic minority groups and people living in rural areas.

The CDC is also releasing updated testing guidance to provide recommendations for how to use screening testing to identify, track and mitigate asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19. 

The guidance will provide information on the best type of tests and the intended strategies for use of those tests, including to diagnose infection and to monitor trends in infection.