Creation of COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board may affect clinical laboratories and lead to a change in the approach to national testing efforts
With the recent changing of presidential administrations, there has been a flurry of executive orders and changes in the approach that the new administration is using to address the COVID-19 public health emergency. While these changes will probably take weeks or months to implement, one executive order issued in the first days of the administration has the potential to directly impact clinical laboratories.
President Joe Biden signed the Executive Order on Establishing the COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board and Ensuring a Sustainable Public Health Workforce for COVID-19 and Other Biological Threats Jan. 21, 2021. This order creates a COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board and identifies seven key functions of the new board.
The focuses of the new COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board will be:
- Coordinating federal government efforts on providing COVID-19 diagnostic, screening, and surveillance testing;
- Reducing disparities in testing;
- Identifying barriers to access to testing, especially for at-risk or vulnerable populations;
- Identifying methods to expand the capacity of states and other local government entities to conduct testing, contact tracing, and isolation and quarantine;
- Guiding the federal government’s communication about COVID-19 testing with the public;
- Identifying options for the federal government to maximize testing capacity of commercial labs and academic labs; and
- Proposing reforms to improve the federal government’s response for future pandemics or other biological emergencies.
Though much is still unknown of this new board, it may result in the development of a more coherent national testing strategy (See Lack of Coherent Testing Strategy Creates Uncertainties for Clinical Laboratories about COVID-19 Testing Volumes).