More rapid COVID-19 tests coming to Mississippi

More rapid COVID-19 tests coming to Mississippi
COVID tests done recently at a local elementary school. (Source: Christian Piekos)

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Another 890,000 rapid COVID-19 tests are on their way to the Magnolia State.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently announced that it would be sending “state-of-the-art Abbot BinaxNow” antigen tests to Mississippi.

The tests can diagnose COVID-19 in as little as 15 minutes, according to a release from HHS.

They will be distributed “at the discretion of Gov. Tate Reeves to support testing K-12 students, teachers, nursing home patients and staff … and other priorities as he deems fit,” the statement reads.

As of October 26, 398,000 tests already had been delivered, including 200,000 specifically for use at Mississippi nursing and assisted living homes.

News comes as case totals across the state surpass 115,000 since the beginning of the outbreak in March, and as Reeves issues a mask mandate for an additional seven counties, WLBT reports.

As of October 25, 133 outbreaks had occurred in long-term care facilities, Mississippi State Department of Health data shows.

On the national level, the Trump administration has invested some $760 million in the BinaxNow tests, which are being sent to states to “facilitate the continued reopening of … schools, businesses and economy,” Assistant Secretary of Health Brett Giroir said.

Among priorities, Mississippi leaders told HHS that the tests would be provided to shelters still housing individuals from recent storms, as well as state Veterans Affairs homes not licensed by Medicare of Medicaid to administer tests.

“They are currently testing in six locations and plan to eventually expand testing from once per week to twice per week … and ultimately (to) daily testing in most counties by the week of November 9,” the release states.

Mississippi also will provide more testing at schools and at long-term care facilities that are not already receiving tests from HHS.

Antigen tests determine coronavirus infections based on the detection of virus proteins, according to the Mayo Clinic website. Nasal or throat swabs are used to obtain test samples, the clinic states.

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