President Joe Biden today announced he is investing $1 billion dollars to quadruple the national supply of at-home COVID-19 tests by December.
"We will have a 200 million test supply by December," said Jeff Zients, COVID-19 coordinator, during a White House press briefing. "At the same time we are increasing the supply of at-home tests, we are expanding access to free testing. Every American, no matter their zip code, can access free testing."
Zients said the Biden administration was also focused on expanding the number of free, community-based testing sites to 30,000 across the country, including 20,000 sites at pharmacies.
Earlier this week the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Acon home test, an antigen test that provides results in less than 15 minutes. Zients said the Acon test will increase the home-testing supply significantly.
Cases drop 12%, but deaths steady
The emphasis on testing comes as the administration struggles to boost vaccination rates. Tomorrow the president will travel to Chicago to meet with executives from United Airlines, which has had success with vaccination requirements.
"Vaccination requirements work," Zients said, sharing that among the 150,000 school employees in New York City— the country's largest school district — 96% are now vaccinated with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said cases and hospitalizations continue to drop across the country. The new 7-day average for COVID-19 cases is 97,910 cases per day, a decrease of 12% over the previous week.
The 7-day average for hospital admissions also dropped to 7,400 per day, and the 7-day average of deaths remained constant at 1,400 per day.
Although COVID-19 hospitalizations are falling nationwide, 8 states have 15% or less of their intensive care unit (ICU) capacity available to patients, according to a CNN analysis of federal data. The states include Texas, Idaho, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arkansas, and North Carolina.
The United States reported 95,756 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, and 1,916 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker.
Other US developments
- The California National Guard has been deployed to four hospitals in Northern and Central California, two regions with low vaccination rates that are struggling with a surge of COVID-19 patients, the New York Times reported.
- The Biden administration yesterday ordered Arizona to stop using its federal pandemic funding on a pair of education grants that can only be directed to schools without mask mandates, the Associated Press reports.
- In August, for the first time during the pandemic, the rate of coronavirus infections among children topped those for adults ages 18 to 64 and seniors, according to a Washington Post analysis of CDC data.