Trump administration sending hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 tests to HBCUs
The administration of President Donald J. Trump on Monday evening sent more than 250,000 rapid diagnostic COVID-19 tests to 42 American historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), representing a continued commitment to protecting the nation’s most vulnerable and ensuring the United States continues to safely reopen its economy.
This comes after the Trump administration’s historic purchase of 150 million rapid response, or point-of-care, tests known as “BinaxNow.” These swab tests return results in only 15 minutes.
Monday merely represented the first round of these tests being sent to HBCUs across the country.
From the Yellowhammer State, Alabama State University in Montgomery and Alabama A&M in Huntsville each received several thousand tests in the first wave.
Hundreds of thousands of additional tests are expected to be shipped in the coming days to HBCUs that did not receive the tests in the first round.
This aligns with Trump’s targeted test distribution strategy; the president is firmly committed to prioritizing the protection of the vulnerable, elderly, frontline health care workers, K-12 schools, daycare, critical infrastructure workers, first responders and those in areas of natural disaster, in addition to HBCUs.
McClatchy reported comments from Adm. Brett Giroir, the White House coronavirus task force testing czar, regarding the distribution of tests to HBCUs.
Giroir outlined that black Americans are five times more likely to be hospitalized from coronavirus, mainly due to disparities relating to preexisting conditions. Additionally, the administration conducted an analysis of HBCUs that found them to have older faculty and staff with other health factors that make them a relatively high-risk demographic for the virus.
Alabama has the most HBCUs in the nation (14).
White House deputy press secretary Brian Morgenstern stated to Yellowhammer News, “From signing legislation providing over $1 billion dollars to minority serving institutions impacted by COVID-19 to deploying hundreds of thousands of these point of care tests, it is clear that HBCU’s have strong champions in the White House.”
“President Trump will continue his unprecedented commitment to ensure that communities of color are equipped with the necessary health and economic resources they need to combat this pandemic,” added Morgenstern.
ASU, Alabama A&M and the other HBCUs shipped round one tests each received enough kits to test every member of its student body, staff and faculty, although this should not be necessary.
This large number of tests will allow the HBCUs to test all symptomatic individuals as well as to perform robust sentinel testing in the form of 5-10% of their student populations weekly.
This is also only the start for these schools. The administration will resupply the HBCUs with tests “as often as they need,” Giroir told McClatchy.
A spokesperson for Alabama A&M said in a statement to Yellowhammer News, “Wide-spread testing is a significant component of the University’s Fall 2020 Re-entry Plan. This partnership with the federal government, in conjunction with the University’s PCR testing program, will greatly speed up our ability to identify, isolate, and reduce the symptomatic and asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 on campus.”
This nationwide initiative is more evidence that the United States is leading the world in coronavirus testing. The country has now completed over 100 million tests, leading worldwide in the number of tests conducted per capita for all countries with over 10 million in population. While America’s testing system is already at the head of the pack, the Trump administration continues to rapidly build the nation’s testing capacity to three million tests per day, which vastly exceeds the demand for those advised to seek tests pursuant to CDC testing guidance.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn