White House updates coronavirus testing guidelines as states begin to reopen economies

Testing can help prevent and contain outbreaks as Americans slowly return to their normal routines

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With more states set to begin reopening their economies this week, the White House released updated coronavirus testing guidelines Monday – aimed at protecting Americans from outbreaks that may occur.

The White House noted that growing testing procedures is a partnership between federal, state, local and tribal governments – testing plans will be federally supported, managed by the state and locally executed.

The goal is to get every symptomatic person a diagnostic test in a timely manner. It also targets identifying asymptomatic individuals in an attempt to stem community spread – particularly at critical locations like senior care centers. Contact tracing should be used to contain potential outbreaks.

“America continues to make steady progress in our war against the virus,” President Trump said in a statement. “Our testing is expanding very rapidly by millions and millions of people. We are also helping governors to develop strategies to smartly deploy their testing capacity to protect vulnerable and underserved populations while getting Americans at lower risk safely back to work.”

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States are ultimately responsible for creating and carrying out testing plans, but the federal government will help by expanding testing platforms, increasing testing and laboratory supplies, enhancing sample collection and unlocking full laboratory capacity.

The private sector plays a role, too. It is developing new technologies that can enhance testing capabilities and accelerating the production of relevant equipment and materials.

Meanwhile, the federal government said it is continuing to work on the next generation of testing capacity – an important piece of which is antibody testing, which can help give a better understanding of the spread of the virus and help identify people who have already been infected.

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Testing is seen as a key piece of reopening the economy because it will not only help prevent and/or contain outbreaks – it can also help give Americans more confidence about returning to their normal activities as shops, restaurants and other local businesses start to slowly reopen.

A Nobel Laureate economist recently released a $100 billion plan to test every American regularly – based on the premise that the economy would not return to anywhere near full strength unless the consumer was confident that they could safely return to the public sphere.

Tennessee, Iowa, Colorado, Minnesota and Montana are among the states that will ease restrictions over the coming days.

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