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Colorado will make rapid COVID-19 at-home tests available to residents free of charge, a measure the state anticipates will further decrease hospitalizations.
“I know that if these tests are in the field being used, people are getting results back, isolating earlier, spreading the virus less, it will save lives and help end the pandemic in Colorado,” Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, said at a Tuesday news conference.
Polis said the state purchased 2 million Abbott BinaxNOW rapid tests, which can return results in about 15 minutes. The tests will be made available for people to order online to be shipped to their homes free of charge within four to six weeks. A maximum of eight tests can be ordered at once, a move meant to preserve limited supplies while manufacturing of the tests picks up following an early summer lull.
People in the United States usually use PCR tests to confirm if they’ve been infected, citing the lower odds of receiving false results. But getting those results can take about 24 hours because they have to be processed in a lab. During that time, before knowing for certain that a person is infected, there is a greater likelihood that he or she will expose others to the virus.
“It’s an extra security level to identify any infection earlier and identify if it’s indeed COVID, to take that extra step and protect yourself and others,” Polis said.
The acquisition of millions of tests comes as the state’s daily case increases finally begin to slow after a steady uptick since early July. Still, case rates remain high compared to the relative calm the state experienced in early summer. Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have also started to level off, remaining at about 1,000 patients on average being treated each day since last week, according to tracking from the New York Times.
Building the country’s testing capacity last year was key to slowing the spread of COVID-19, but the government’s notoriously slow pace to get tests out lagged behind demand for much of spring 2020. Sales of Abbott tests plummeted when demand for tests slowed earlier this year once new case rates began to fall and vaccination rates ballooned. When the delta variant began tearing through states and overloading hospitals, however, demand for tests increased again. Schools and parents of children ineligible for vaccination have also driven up demand in anticipation of a return to in-person learning this fall.
The Biden administration also announced this week that it will purchase about $2 billion worth of rapid tests to be allocated to nursing homes and other settings with high-risk populations as part of the federal "vaccination or testing" program, which will give people the chance to skip the shots in favor of being tested for COVID-19 on a regular basis.
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Original Author: Cassidy Morrison