Capitol Correspondence - 07.06.21

COVID-19 Delta Variant Causes Biden Administration to Revisit Testing

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We share this article by Politico to help our members with their operational planning as they continue to ensure the safety of people with disabilities during the pandemic.

“The Biden administration is rethinking its approach to Covid-19 testing as the pandemic enters an uncertain phase — one in which new infections have dropped to the lowest level since the spring of 2020, but the highly contagious Delta variant is driving fresh outbreaks.

Federal health officials, along with testing labs and test makers, are weighing how to implement the lessons they have learned from this pandemic to prepare for the next one. That includes what types of government incentives could help keep companies prepared to quickly develop tests in the face of a new emergency, and whether to stockpile key testing supplies. The administration also recently retooled the leadership of its Covid-19 testing and diagnostic workgroup.

But with newer variants like Delta circulating, the administration must also ensure that existing tests are capable of detecting emerging strains — and maintain enough testing capacity to detect and tamp down new bursts of infections.

The government is working with the diagnostics industry to ensure the gains in domestic manufacturing are not lost over time. But it is not yet out of the danger zone with Covid-19. With public health experts warning that Delta could drive up cases in under-vaccinated areas, the Biden team is pushing ahead with plans to establish testing programs in schools and homeless shelters as the fall approaches. It is also pushing test makers to create products that can be used at home to simultaneously screen for flu, Covid and other common respiratory viruses.


Covid-19 testing numbers have fallen significantly since infections peaked in late January. But with less than 50 percent of the U.S. population fully vaccinated, and many states reporting vaccination rates in the 30s or 40s, the nation is vulnerable to highly contagious variants like Delta.”

A bit more on the Delta variant: “Delta variant cases in the U.S. doubled last month and now account for roughly 20 percent of U.S. cases, while experts project that a quarter of global cases are from the more contagious and severe strain first found in India. Anthony Fauci last week called the Delta variant the ‘greatest threat’ to reopening the U.S.”, Politico Pulse reports.

Related resource: We encourage our members to read this Kaiser Family Foundation update finding that people are more likely to get vaccinated with encouragement from their employers.