March 18, 2020

Notes from the HHS Testing Call on March 15

ACEP staff took notes for you on the latest conference call. Questions? Contact us. 


  • Burke
    • Changing in testing policy: Will increase testing across the board, with the implementation of community-based testing centers (drive-by centers) led by public health service corps
    • New tests that are FDA approved will be available Monday
    • Need to be sure that labs are ready to operationalize these tests
    • The goal is to try to keep people away from care centers, like EDs, to serve patients with high-acuity needs
  • Jared Kushner also spoke and thanked individuals for their efforts


  • HHS Secretary
    • Ramping up drive-through testing through private and public partnership
    • Recognized that testing has not been accessible, but is working on scaling up testing to meet needs.
    • Also focused on increasing the supply of PPE
  • Brett Giroir—testing czar
    • Who should be tested?
      • Emphasize two groups in new community-based testing centers: 
        • healthcare workers and first responders
        • those who at risk—over 65 years and older and those with temp over 99.6
      • in other health care settings, testing will be available for those who are clinically indicated.
    • What’s expected of different stakeholders for this new community-based testing centers
      • HHS working along with FEMA has reached out to all 50 states
      • Will be working with labcorp and Quest for testing
    • One of the goals is to avoid individuals from going to hospitals and emergency department for less serious cases—these community-based testing centers will test 2000-4000 individuals per week– so won’t be able to test everyone
    • Set expectations:  not going to be 100,000s of tests tomorrow; gotten input from states on high priority areas
      • This week, there will be numerous testing centers in numerous states, starting with high priority (high outbreak) states
      • Will probably screen 10,000 by end of week
      • This is really a state-led effort
    • Try to preserve PPE for hospitals—this is a big goal—try to maximize PPE
      • One swab needed per test, but that requires PPE
      • Hoping to validate self-swabbing to mitigate need for PPE
      • There are other ways to preserve PPE that we should explore
    • Overall 1.9 million tests over week from all private and public testing sources


  • Redfield—CDC Director
    • CDC issuing lab guidelines for testing and safety guidelines for handling specimens, and ensuring that labs have resources they need to process tests
    • Nothing in guidance that prevents a test from being ordered if recommended by a physician
  • Hahn—FDA Commissioner
    • FDA has number 1-888-463-6332 where individuals can find out information about tests and supply chain—one stop shopping to learn all about FDA-related testing issues
    • Lab tests
      • Any CLIA-certified lab can create its own COVID-19 test and notify FDA—and send data to FDA within 3 weeks
      • CDC tests—will be able to be performed in multiple different settings
      • Commercial partners—two currently, but trying to expand available platforms
      • Any labs in NY can go to NY state for ability to test without going to FDA
    • FDA has provided guidance on swabs that can be used for testing
    • Supply chain issues- that is limited to CDC tests—FDA has worked on finding alternatives
  • Kadlec-- ASPR
    • Strategic National Stockpile (SNS)
      • Does SNS include tests?
        • Yes it includes infrastructure, like PPE, necessary to provide tests
      • How does SNS address shortages?
        • SNS tries to fill in where there are specific shortages
      • What is process for getting materials released from SNS?
        • Work with state health and emergency managers to filter specific requests from hospitals and others—really depend on states to understand specific need.  Working with states on trying to increase supply.

We'll keep you updated as things evolve. 


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