CovidTests.gov early rollout raises equity concerns; where’s the data?

This week, the U.S. government unveiled a new website where Americans can get free at-home COVID-19 tests. Within hours of this site going live, public health experts were already raising equity concerns about the free test distribution program. To address these concerns, the federal government should release data on where the free tests go—including breakdowns by state, county, ZIP code, race and ethnicity, the tests’ delivery dates, and more.

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FAQ: Testing and isolation in the time of Omicron

As Omicron spreads rapidly through the U.S., this variant is driving record case numbers—and record demand for testing, including both PCR and rapid at-home tests. In other words, it feels harder than ever to get tested for COVID-19, largely because more people currently need a test due to recent exposure to the virus than at any other time during the pandemic.

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The challenges of routine COVID-19 testing in schools

At this point in the pandemic, we know that routine COVID-19 testing can be a key tactic for reducing transmission in communal settings. If you identify cases as soon as they occur through asymptomatic testing, you can quickly isolate those cases and quarantine their contacts—preventing the cases from turning into outbreaks. This strategy works everywhere from kindergarten classrooms to the NBA.

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Fall school reopening plans demonstrate continued data gap

Vaccine options for children ages 12 and older (now Pfizer, soon Moderna) make in-person education a safe bet for a lot of families. But younger students will likely have to wait much longer for their shots. As a result, regular testing will continue to be a key safety strategy… but school testing data continue to be hard to come by.

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The short-term future of COVID-19 testing

This week, I had a story on COVID-19 testing published in Slate’s Future Tense vertical. The piece explores how testing will change in the next few months as more Americans become vaccinated and rapid tests become more widely available. In the CDD today, I’m excited to share one of the interviews I conducted for the piece, with Dan Larremore, a statistician at the University of Colorado and long-time advocate for the potential of rapid tests.

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NYC variant looks like bad news

In a press conference on Wednesday, NYC mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed that the recently identified NYC variant (since christened B-1526) is outpacing the original strain in spreading speed, and his senior advisor for Public Health, Dr. Jay Varma, said that these two variants combined account for 51% of all cases in the city.

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