Federal data updates, Feb. 7

Since our main stories this week focused on NYC, here are a couple of updates from the federal public health agencies. This includes CDC vaccination data, vaccination demographics, and a survey from the Department of Education.

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It is, once again, time to talk about antigen testing

Antigen tests have become a major part of the national testing strategy. Six tests have received Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA. After Abbott’s antigen test was given this okay-to-distribute in late August, the White House quickly purchased 150 million tests and made plans to distribute them across the country. Context: the U.S. has done about 131 million total tests since the pandemic began, according to the COVID Tracking Project’s most recent count. Clearly, antigen testing is here—and beginning to scale up. But most states are ill-prepared to report the antigen tests going on in their jurisdictions, and federal public health agencies are barely reporting them at all.

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Where are the rapid testing data?

Abbott ID NOW tests are in use across the country. 11 million of them have been distributed since March. But where are the tests being used, how many of them have returned positive results, and are they being used correctly—to quickly diagnose patients with COVID-19 symptoms? Without these data, it is difficult to determine whether Abbott’s test should be part of America’s testing strategy going forward.

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COVID source callout: Utah

Utah was one of the first states to begin reporting antigen tests back in early August. The state is also one of only three to report an antigen testing time series, rather than simply the total number of tests conducted. However, the format in which Utah presents these data is… challenging. Rather than reporting daily antigen test counts—or […]

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What’s up with testing in Texas?

The COVID Tracking Project published a blog post this week in which three of our resident Texas experts, Conor Kelly, Judith Oppenheim, and Pat Kelly, describe a dramatic shift in Texas testing numbers which has taken place in the past two weeks. On August 2, the number of tests reported by Texas’s Department of State Health Services (DSHS) began to plummet. The state went from a reported 60,000 tests per day at the end of July to about half that number by August 12.

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Antigen tests: fast, cheap, and almost diagnostic

In May, however, a new type of testing came on the scene. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized its first antigen test on May 9, and its second antigen test on July 6. By the end of July, both types of antigen tests had been distributed to hundreds of nursing homes across the country.

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