Virginia joins multi-state agreement for rapid COVID-19 testing

Rapid antigen testing is the next generation that can make that available, and it has reached...
Rapid antigen testing is the next generation that can make that available, and it has reached one clinic in Gulfport.
Updated: Aug. 5, 2020 at 11:37 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia will join several other states in an agreement to expand rapid COVID-19 testing, according to an announcement from Gov. Ralph Northam on Tuesday.

Multiple states will enter formal discussions to purchase 500,000 rapid tests per state. The tests, made by U.S. manufacturers Becton Dickinson and Quidel, have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug administration and deliver results in 15-20 minutes.

“The states are leading America’s national response to COVID-19,” Northam said. “We are bringing together this bipartisan, multi-state coalition to combine our purchasing power and get rapid testing supplies to our communities as quickly as possible.”

Northam says that this agreement will demonstrate to private manufacturers that there is a significant demand to scale up production of these tests.

Virginia joins Maryland, Michigan, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Ohio and North Carolina in the interstate compact. Additional states and localities may join the the agreement in coming weeks, Northam said.

Northam said without a viable vaccine, he expects the commonwealth to continue dealing with COVID-19 for the next several months unless states begin working together to find other means of fighting the virus.

“We’ve been asked as governors to fight a biological war without supplies,” said Northam. “We have competed from the beginning for PPE, we have competed for testing supplies, for the capacity to do the number of testing and despite no leadership and no guidance, we are where we are today.”

The Rockefeller Foundation will assist in facilitating financing mechanisms to support the purchasing agreement - which Northam says will provide a platform to purchase tests and supplies “in a sustainable and cost-effective manner.”

“If you had a test earlier and knew it earlier, you could get everything you needed to help you,” said Lisa Hix-Bowling.

Hix-Bowling recovered from COVID-19 back in April after contracting it from her mother who she discharged from a Henrico longterm care facility. She says she remembers the anxiety she felt waiting days for her test results to come back. She says she excited about the new testing coming to Virginia because it could help Virginians prepare for the virus better.

“We got tested on a Friday and had to wait until Monday to get the test results, and just the anticipation of ‘has this spread to someone else?’ is very terrifying,” said Hix-Bowling. “A quicker result could save your life or someone else’s.”

“Rapid access to testing is crucial in our collective fight against COVID-19, which is why I am grateful to join these other governors in a collaborative effort to purchase testing supplies and help identify outbreaks more quickly while improving the turnaround time for test results,” said Lousiana Gov. Bel Edwards. “COVID does not know any borders and by working together we strengthen our response, improve testing access, and ultimately help our communities become safer and healthier.”

During the Wednesday Coronavirus briefing, Northam discussed the multi-state venture, but couldn’t go into detail about how much the 500,00 tests would cost the state or how the tests would be distributed once purchased.

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