Covid test cost reveals social disparities

Covid test cost reveals social disparities

The Washington Post:
They Relied On Rapid Coronavirus Tests To Gather Safely. Some Wish They Hadn’t
Rona MacInnes, 54, was determined to do everything possible to protect her elderly mother as her family prepared to gather for Christmas in Pennington, N.J. With her son returning from study in Dublin, MacInnes hoped serial at-home coronavirus tests would catch a coronavirus infection he might bring home. The college junior would take six rapid tests before the holiday, all of which returned negative results. But it would become clear only later — after he had spent time with his grandmother — that he had been infected the whole time. Several days after gathering for Christmas, he got a positive result back from the first available lab-based PCR test he was able to book. (Shepherd, 1/17) North Carolina Health News:
Rapid Antigen Tests Are Coming. Now What? 
In the coming days, people seeking a rapid test to see if they’re positive for COVID-19 will be able to put information into a federal website and ask for up to four rapid tests. Ten to 12 days later, they should arrive in the mail. And over the past weekend, federal rules recently put in place mean that insurance companies now have to reimburse plan members for up to eight over the counter rapid COVID-19 tests per month. All this comes as the Biden administration is finally putting its weight behind scaling up the number of rapid tests being manufactured and released to the public – about a billion rapid tests should be online by the first week of February. That should make it easier for people to get their hands on the tests, which have flown off of pharmacy shelves since late December. (Hoban, 1/18) AP:
Retesting Needed After Nearly 500 COVID-19 Tests Discarded
Nearly 500 people will need to be retested for COVID-19 after samples from tests they took at Ripken Stadium last week expired by the time they arrived at a lab. A Harford County Health Department spokesperson told WJZ-TV that the agency’s primary laboratory experienced a COVID-19 outbreak, so the test samples were sent to a backup lab instead. But the samples had expired before they got there. (1/17)

Fox News:
FEMA Administrator On Delayed COVID Testing Efforts: Agency’s Role ‘Has Not Changed’
Responding to questions about whether the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) should have been surging resources for COVID-19 testing months ago – before the omicron variant of the coronavirus began to infect individuals nationwide – Administrator Deanne Criswell said Friday that the agency was working to support states based on what they had requested. Speaking at the White House press briefing, the leader said FEMA’s role has always been to support hospitals, schools and public service agencies. (Musto, 1/16) And more on covid testing —

The Boston Globe:
For Marginalized Groups, COVID Testing Shortages A Bigger Burden
Take-home rapid tests and PCR testing appointments are hard to come by for everyone amid the surge in coronavirus cases. But for marginalized groups statewide, the scavenger hunt for COVID testing is tougher to navigate. A lack of reliable transportation, jobs with little flexibility, and language barriers make the search for tests more grueling in low-income, immigrant, and BIPOC communities, advocates and public health specialists say. Even weather variables, such as the extreme cold last week that closed some outdoor tent sites, add another challenge to the mix. “The inequities have continued to plague communities of color and low-income communities across the state,” said Carlene Pavlos, executive director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association. “They continue to be the hardest hit.” (Woodard, 1/17) NBC News:
Cost Of Masks And Tests Deepens A Pandemic Wedge Between The Haves And The Have-Nots
During the pandemic, three quarters of workers said it was very or somewhat difficult to make ends meet, 40 percent said they couldn’t come up with $400 in the event of an emergency and around 20 percent said they went hungry because they couldn’t afford enough to eat, according to the Shift Project, an ongoing survey of American hourly wage workers operated by Harvard University sociologist Daniel Schneider. … In some cities, local mutual aid groups — many created amid the George Floyd protests during the summer of 2020 — have worked to fill the gap. Organizers in Portland, Oregon, and in Seattle have poured their own money into the effort and put out calls for cash and test kits to hand out to those in need. (McCausland, 1/17)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. KHN:
Officials Struggle To Regulate Pop-Up Covid Testing Sites — And Warn Patients To Beware 
In recent months, mobile covid-19 testing tents and vans have sprouted on urban sidewalks and street curbs as demand has skyrocketed in response to the rapid spread of the omicron variant. Some of the sites run by private companies offer legitimate, timely and reliable results, but others are more like weeds. High demand and scarce supply opened the door to bad actors, and officials in some states are having a hard time keeping up their oversight amid the proliferation. (Andrews, 1/18)

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