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White House: 10M COVID-19 tests will be sent to schools each month

The White House said Wednesday it will make 5 million rapid COVID-19 tests and 5 million PCR tests available to schools every month. File Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI
The White House said Wednesday it will make 5 million rapid COVID-19 tests and 5 million PCR tests available to schools every month. File Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 12 (UPI) -- The White House announced on Wednesday that President Joe Biden's administration will make 10 million COVID-19 tests available to schools nationwide each month, in an effort to shore up testing deficiencies and keep classrooms open amid the surge in Omicron cases.

Officials said the administration will make 5 million rapid tests and 5 million PCR tests available to schools every month.

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The move comes amid widespread shortages of coronavirus tests and relentless surges in cases driven by the Omicron variant. Almost 150,000 people in the United States were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of late Tuesday, a record for a single day.

For weeks, Biden has promised to increase testing capabilities -- as well as make home testing kits available to all Americans at no cost. The website for the free tests is expected to go online later this month.

"These additional tests will help schools safely remain open and implement screening testing and test to stay programs," the White House said in a statement Wednesday.

Each month, millions of rapid Antigen COVID-19 tests like these will be sent to U.S. schools, the White House said in an announcement on Wednesday. File Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI
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"With the additional 10 million tests per month, we will make available to schools more than double the volume of testing that took place in schools across the nation in November, the most recent data available."

Many schools have faced closures this month after returning from the holiday break, due to the rise in COVID-19 cases and sick staffers. Chicago public schools were closed for days over a dispute about safety protocols between the teachers union and city officials. They reopened on Wednesday after the two sides reached an agreement.

Officials said the Department of Health and Human Services and Federal Emergency Management Agency are working with state, territorial and tribal leaders to identify specific testing needs and will send out "surge testing units" to support free testing access at schools.

The White House noted that the plan will set up school testing programs using funds from the American Rescue Plan.

"We know how to keep students and staff safely in school, including through vaccinations and boosters, implementing universal indoor masking, maintaining physical distancing, improving ventilation and performing COVID-19 screening testing," the White House added.

Under the plan, schools would be able to refer students and staff to community testing sites that are supported by federal funding, and public entities will receive full reimbursement through FEMA.

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