1 million COVID-19 tests coming to DC region

A million COVID-19 rapid tests are coming to Maryland and Virginia after a coalition of seven states banded together to buy 3.5 million tests – a first during the pandemic.

It comes as testing delays continue to be a major problem. CVS, for example, says people can expect to wait six to ten days for results, and possibly even longer because of lab delays.

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan negotiated the deal in his final days as chair of the National Governors Association.

The states included are Maryland, Virginia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, and late in the day, North Carolina got on board too. Each state will get half a million rapid tests.

The Rockefeller Foundation is providing a credit guarantee for the huge pre-order of tests to let manufactures know the money will be there and that there is a real market and need for these tests.

“I think you could be seeing these tests within the next month,” said Eileen O’Connor, the foundation’s Senior Vice-President for Communications, Policy, and Advocacy. “But the point too is there’s still a limited number of these tests because the production capacity is still low, but by signaling to the market, some of the companies we’ve talked to say they will be ramping up to a greater capacity.”

RELATED: Growing concerns about COVID-19 testing delays nationwide

O’Connor said the rapid tests should be used to regularly screen people without COVID symptoms and it would help clear the backlog of lab tests. The Rockefeller Foundation has developed a national plan for testing and contact tracing.

“We believe that speed is of the essence to get this done,” said O’Connor. “Because the flu season is approaching and the sniffles and the coughs and the fevers that come with the flu very easily be confused with the symptoms of COVID-19, and you could see the healthcare system being increasingly overwhelmed as well as the testing system creating further backlogs.”

Rapid tests are a lot cheaper than the lab tests, but they do have have a higher false-negative rate.