White House Gives $10 Billion to Schools to Ramp Up COVID Testing and Reopen Safely
President Biden has authorized a $10 billion investment in COVID testing to help U.S. schools reopen safely. This funding comes after the American Rescue Plan was signed into law last Thursday.
On Wednesday, the United States Department of Health and Human Services announced it will invest $10 billion for states to provide schools with coronavirus screening tests for students, teachers and staff. This effort is being made so more schools can begin to resume in-person classes.
The tests will be used to help diagnose symptomatic students and teachers as well as asymptomatic individuals who may have been exposed to an infected person. “Using existing funding mechanisms, this funding will be able to be deployed quickly as part of a strategy to help get schools open in the remaining months of this school year.”
Since testing is a new service for many schools, HHS announced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local health departments will be available to support schools in the implementation of this new screening program.
In addition, the report stated that the CDC will also invest $2.25 billion to increase testing across underserved and high-risk populations, specifically for racial and minority ethic groups and rural residents.
The new focus on increasing testing in schools and providing more resources for COVID screening comes just after the Biden administration challenged states to offer all teachers and child care workers vaccinations by the end of March, reported Reuters.
According to Reuters, the CDC is also considering lowering its social distancing recommendations from six feet to three feet based on new data suggesting a smaller distance might still prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“COVID-19 testing is critical to saving lives and restoring economic activity,” said HHS Acting Secretary Norris Cochran during the announcement. “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.”
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