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States Respond to COVID-19: Targeted Testing of Vulnerable Populations

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) distributed a COVID-19 diagnostic test (BinaxNOW) to states and territories across the country. The lateral flow test detects the presence of protein antigens from SARS-CoV-2 in individuals suspected of COVID-19 by their health care provider within the first seven days of symptom onset.

While HHS distributed the tests, states are deciding how to use them to target vulnerable populations. For example:

  • Arkansas plans to dedicate tests to departments of Corrections and Health Services staff, as well as to K-12 schools, health care workers, and other vulnerable populations;
  • Kentucky sent tests to local health departments and homeless shelters and plans to use additional tests for other vulnerable populations, including in correctional facilities;
  • New York will use the tests for an outbreak response and has prioritized vulnerable and at-risk populations for testing;
  • Utah distributed tests to local health departments and plans to distribute future allocations to universities and vulnerable and homeless sheltering populations; and
  • Nevada and Oregon allocated tests to their tribal populations.

Visit the America’s Essential Hospitals coronavirus resource page for more information about the outbreak.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at or 202.585.0127 with questions


About the Author

Abigail Painchaud is a policy associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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