US is approaching a phase where ‘covid is not a crisis,’ White House official says

Fifty million free home coronavirus test kits have been shipped to American households, White House officials said Wednesday, and more efforts are underway to bolster the country’s testing supply.

The kits available include 200 million tests, as each kit contains four, and represent about 85% of initial orders, White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said during a press briefing. The remaining orders will be shipped in the coming days, he added.

“It’s an unprecedented effort,” Zients said. “There’s been incredibly strong demand and incredibly strong execution, shipping 200 million tests straight to Americans’ doorsteps.”

Also on Wednesday, federal officials said they issued a formal request for information from the testing industry in an effort to boost manufacturing and capacity in the United States for the coming year.

Tom Inglesby, national coronavirus testing coordinator, said the request was intended to offer solutions to market volatility and supply chain issues. It also asks what is needed to scale up manufacturing and develop new technologies.

White House officials will use this information to develop a long-term testing strategy, knowing that demand will decline as the omicron push recedes. Testing will remain essential to the US response to the pandemic, Inglesby said, and the steps being taken now will help bolster the country’s testing infrastructure.

“We are taking steps now to maintain and expand national testing capacity in this country,” he said. “And we will be ready if we face a new variant or a new push in the future.”

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