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Trump Administration to Send New COVID-19 Rapid Tests to State Leaders

FILE - Materials for COVD-19 testing from Abbott Laboratories, U.S. Cotton, and Puritan are displayed as President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus during a press briefing in the Rose Garden of the White House, May 11, 2020, in Washington.

The Trump administration announced Tuesday that an “overwhelming majority” of the rapid COVID-19 tests it purchased from Abbott Laboratories last month will be sent to state leaders in an effort to support the reopening of what it calls “critical infrastructure” around the United States.

In a $750 million dollar deal, the U.S. government acquired 150 million tests from Abbott, which will begin distributing the tests later this month. The company says it is ramping up production and is set to produce more than 50 million tests per month by October to meet high demand. The COVID-19 disease is caused by the coronavirus.

Government officials say that assisting the reopening of schools and daycare centers along with providing tests for first responders and populations with special needs are top priorities.

The test, which was granted emergency-use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration last week, takes just 15 minutes to produce results and has shown to correctly diagnose positive cases of the coronavirus approximately 97% of the time.

Abbott says the rapid test uses the same technology as a pregnancy test, but instead of using hormones to tell whether someone is pregnant, the antigen test looks for the presence of proteins in saliva or mucus to tell if someone is positive for COVID-19.

Government officials say they are confident that the easy-to-use test, which costs just $5, will help to cut down on the lengthy wait times many Americans were subjected to this year when their tests had to be sent to labs around the country for processing.

Currently, the test has only been approved for usage in doctors’ offices, emergency rooms, and schools.