New rapid COVID-19 test slated to assist in return to in-person learning, health officials cautions

Missouri

ST. LOUIS – How do we get a hold on COVID-19? That’s the question many are still asking as some parents on edge for students to get back into the classroom and sports, while the coronavirus death toll continues to grow.

President Donald Trump believes he now has the answers.

“Today, I’m pleased to report that we’re announcing our plan to distribute 150 million Abbott rapid point-of-care tests in the coming weeks – very, very soon,” President Trump said.

The test Trump is referring to is a 15-minute self-swab procedure that involves dropping six drops of liquid onto a piece of paper, swabbing the perimeter of your nose five times, and putting the swab into the test.

Officials say 2.1 million tests have already been shipped to states, including here in Missouri.

The president says he’s hopeful a test like this could get virtual-learning students back in classrooms a lot faster, but some teachers are hoping officials will pump their breaks in moving too quickly.

“If it can be executed efficiently and effectively,” teacher Nancy Tucker said. “We needed this months ago.”

Tucker is a special education teacher in St. Louis Public Schools and says as much as she’s anxious to get back into the classroom, she’s also wants to make sure it’s done right.

“We want to be back in the classroom, no question about it,” she said. “But we want to do so safely and we want to make sure everybody is prepared to do that in the best way possible.”

Close to a million of the new tests will be given to senior homes, while 339,000 will be distributed to historically black colleges and universities including Harris Stowe State University here in St. Louis.

Dr. Alex Garza with the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force said in a statement:

“Any increase in testing capacity, as well as more timely reporting, is a good thing. There is also debate within the scientific community about how sensitive a test for COVID needs to be, so a less accurate test is not necessarily a bad thing. This is because a highly sensitive PCR test can detect levels of virus that are not high enough for the patient to be infectious. So, a lower threshold test may be appropriate. The challenge will be in how to operationalize the test, who are the priority populations and then ensuring accurate reporting of test results, both positive and negative, to the appropriate public health authorities. It doesn’t do anyone any good if a positive test is not reported so that proper quarantine and contact tracing can occur.”

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