State getting 1.3 million rapid COVID tests; prisons, nursing homes, schools first on list

Abbott’s BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 Ag Card is highly portable, about the size of a credit card, and doesn’t require added equipment.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The federal government is sending 1,340,000 state-of-the-art Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 antigen tests to the state.

The rapid point of care tests, which can diagnose coronavirus infection in as little as 15 minutes, will be distributed at the discretion of Gov. Andy Beshear to support testing K-12 students, teachers, nursing home patients and staff, higher education, critical infrastructure, first responders, and other priorities.

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Monday, Beshear said many of the tests will go initially to jails and prisons. The etsts, which are self-administered under the watch of a trained administrator, are rapdi although their accuracy is not as good as other tests.

The state is sending some to prisons and jails as outbreaks continue, such as the one currently happening at the Elliott County facility, Beshear said.

Of the 1.3 million, more than 284,000 COVID-19 rapid tests have been sent directly to nursing homes, assisted living facilities and to historically black colleges and universities. As of October 26 over 595,000 BinaxNOW tests have been shipped to Kentucky.

In preliminary feedback, the state shared it has shipped tests to public universities and local health departments to support K-12 schools, universities, and homeless shelter operations. They also plan to use the BinaxNOW tests to reach vulnerable populations and correctional institutions.

The federal government purchased Abbott BinaxNOW diagnostic tests on August 27, 2020, to ensure equitable distribution of the first 150 million units – one day after an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) was issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – to ensure they would be expeditiously distributed to vulnerable populations as quickly as possible.

Now that initial distribution of these tests to all 50 states and the District of Columbia is well underway, it ensures the nation’s governors will not have to compete for the initial BinaxNOW shipments, or waste precious time to set up individual purchasing contracts with the manufacturer.

HHS has also provided all CLIA-certified nursing homes over 11 million rapid point of care tests, this includes Abbott BinaxNOW FDA-authorized antigen diagnostic tests and either a Quidel Sofia 2 or Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD) Veritor™ Plus System instrument(s) with associated tests.