Michigan joins 6-state compact for rapid COVID-19 tests

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    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Tuesday that she has entered into a major bipartisan agreement with the governors of Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio and Virginia to expand rapid COVID-19 testing capabilities among the states.

    The compact, made in conjunction with the private New York-based Rockefeller Foundation, is the first of its kind and may be joined by additional states and jurisdictions in the coming days and weeks.

    “This bipartisan partnership will help us protect our families, the heroes on the front lines of this crisis, small businesses, and our most vulnerable communities,” said Whitmer, a Democrat. “Widespread testing is one of the most crucial tools we have to stop the spread of this virus and save lives. I’m proud of the bipartisan work governors across the state have done to protect our regions from COVID-19.”

    Whitmer added that she hopes President Donald Trump and Congress will work on a recovery package with more support for states during the continued COVID-19 outbreak.

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    The agreement between the states — led by three Democratic governors and three Republicans — aims to ramp up the production of rapid point-of-care antigen tests, which can deliver COVID-19 results in 15-20 minutes. Faster test results are a crucial part of virus containment efforts and could help states better control COVID-19 spread.

    “With severe shortages and delays in testing and the federal administration attempting to cut funding for testing, the states are banding together to acquire millions of faster tests to help save lives and slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican. “I want to thank my fellow governors for signing on to this groundbreaking bipartisan agreement, which we have just finalized after weeks of discussions with the Rockefeller Foundation. We will be working to bring additional states, cities, and local governments on board as this initiative moves forward.”

    Tuesday’s press release notes that the states are currently in talks with the New Jersey-based manufacturing company Becton Dickinson and the California-based Quidel to purchase 500,000 tests per state for a total of 3 million tests. Both companies’ antigen tests have already received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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    The purchasing agreement will allow each state to have better and more affordable access to the tests, along with interstate coordination on testing policies and protocols. The Rockefeller Foundation will provide financing assistance to support the compact.

    “We are committed to helping communities across America avoid the tragic consequences of this disease by expanding the use of the latest diagnostic and screening tests so those unwittingly spreading Covid can be isolated and supported,” said Dr. Rajiv Shah, president of The Rockefeller Foundation.

    “I am grateful to Govs. [Larry] Hogan, [John] Bel Edwards, [Charlie] Baker, Whitmer, [Mike] DeWine and [Ralph] Northam for their leadership and partnerships to give workers, teachers, students and vulnerable people the confidence they need to be safe until a vaccine is developed and proven effective.”

    Laina G. Stebbins
    Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, immigration and criminal justice. She is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or listening to podcasts, she loves art and design, discovering new music, being out in nature and spending time with her two cats Rainn and Remy.