WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) announced today that New Orleans has been chosen to participate in a COVID-19 antigen testing pilot program designed to ensure that K-12 schools can safely reopen during the pandemic.
“By participating in this program, New Orleans school children can receive faster testing results, improving health and safety for all. Further, the data gathered during this program can hopefully provide a model for reopening other aspects of society,” said Dr. Cassidy.
The program is administered through the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Rockefeller Group. Cassidy worked with HHS officials to ensure that New Orleans and the state of Louisiana would have adequate testing capacity, and continues that work. The program’s goal is to identify and share effective approaches for using rapid point-of-care antigen tests to screen for COVID-19 in schools.
HHS will provide at least 120,000 tests to pilot sites. Other cities participating in the program include Louisville, Ky., Los Angeles and Tulsa, Okla. Rhode Island has also been selected as a pilot state.
The program will use Abbot BinaxNOW tests, which produce COVID-19 test results in 15 minutes. It is the only antigen rapid point-of-care test authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that does not require a laboratory-based instrument to test the samples, rather results are shown on a test card.
“This pilot program will generate real-world evidence, and identify best practices and lessons learned, as well as metrics on how to effectively integrate testing into school opening and reopening for K-12 students and teachers,” said ADM Brett Giroir, M.D., HHS assistant secretary for health. “Our collaboration with The Rockefeller Foundation will inform states and territories on how to develop their own roadmaps for safely keeping children in the classroom, which is critical for their physical, emotional, mental, and developmental health.”