Virginia joins bipartisan, interstate compact to expand rapid antigen testing

Published 4:42 pm Monday, August 17, 2020

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Gov. Ralph Northam today announced a cutting-edge interstate compact to expand the use of rapid antigen testing in Virginia. Gov. Northam joined Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in this bipartisan agreement with the Rockefeller Foundation, which represents the first interstate testing compact of its kind among governors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With today’s announcement, these six states are entering formal discussions with Becton Dickinson and Quidel, the U.S. manufacturers of antigen tests that have already been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration, to purchase 500,000 rapid antigen tests per state. By joining together, states are demonstrating to private manufacturers that there is significant demand to scale up the production of these tests, which deliver results in 15 to 20 minutes. Additional states, cities, and local governments may join the compact in the coming weeks.

“The states are leading America’s national response to COVID-19,” said Northam. “We are bringing together this bipartisan, multi-state coalition to combine our purchasing power and get rapid testing supplies to our communities as quickly as possible. The people in our six states want to see action, and together, we’re delivering.”

This interstate cooperative purchasing agreement will provide a unique platform to purchase tests and associated supplies in a sustainable and cost-effective manner. In addition, the states will coordinate on policies and protocols regarding rapid antigen testing technology. The Rockefeller Foundation will assist in facilitating financing mechanisms to support this large-scale interstate testing compact.

“With severe shortages and delays in testing and the federal administration attempting to cut funding for testing, the states are banding together to acquire millions of faster tests to help save lives and slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Hogan. “I want to thank my fellow governors for signing on to this groundbreaking bipartisan agreement, which we have just finalized after weeks of discussions with the Rockefeller Foundation. We will be working to bring additional states, cities, and local governments on board as this initiative moves forward.”

“Rapid access to testing is crucial in our collective fight against COVID-19, which is why I am grateful to join these other governors in a collaborative effort to purchase testing supplies and help identify outbreaks more quickly, while improving the turnaround time for test results,” said Edwards. “COVID does not know any borders and by working together we strengthen our response, improve testing access and ultimately help our communities become safer and healthier.”

“This bipartisan partnership will help us protect our families, the heroes on the front lines of this crisis, small businesses, and our most vulnerable communities,” said Whitmer. “Widespread testing is one of the most crucial tools we have to stop the spread of this virus and save lives. I’m proud of the bipartisan work governors across the state have done to protect our regions from COVID-19. I’m hopeful that the president and Congress will follow our lead and work together on a recovery package that includes support for states like ours so we can continue to protect our families.”

“Time is of the essence, which is why I am pleased to join with my fellow governors to work together to expand the use of rapid, point-of-care antigen tests in order to help to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our states,” said DeWine.

“We are committed to helping communities across America avoid the tragic consequences of this disease by expanding the use of the latest diagnostic and screening tests so those unwittingly spreading Covid can be isolated and supported,” said Dr. Rajiv Shah, president of The Rockefeller Foundation. “I am grateful to Governors Hogan, Bel Edwards, Baker, Whitmer, DeWine and Northam for their leadership and partnerships to give workers, teachers, students, and vulnerable people the confidence they need to be safe until a vaccine is developed and proven effective.”