Coronavirus test process: How it will work with government's public-private partnership

KABC logo
Friday, March 13, 2020
How COVID-19 testing website, process will work
Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, explains how the COVID-19 testing website will work.

President Donald Trump on Friday announced a new public-private partnership to expand coronavirus testing capabilities around the country.

The partnership will include drive-thru testing in some locations and an online portal to screen those seeking to get tested. Here's how it will work:

The process begins on a website that is currently in development. Visitors will be prompted to fill out a screening questionnaire that will ask for information about symptoms, risk factors and possible exposure to another COVID-19 patient, White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx explained.

If a test is warranted, visitors will be directed to a local screening center in their community. Trump said businesses like Walgreens, Walmart, CVS and Target have offered to provide space in their parking lots for the pop-up testing centers around the country.

The test will be shipped to a laboratory, and results will be displayed on the screening website in as little as 24 hours, Birx said.

The website could be ready by Sunday night, officials said, and results could be turned around in 24 to 36 hours.

Verily, a company under Google, confirmed that it is working to "help triage" people for screening. But the company offered no details about what the tool would look like or when it would launch.

The FDA approved a new test from Roche Diagnostics, which is expected to make "up to half a million additional tests" "available early next week," Trump said, adding that the FDA also hopes to authorize an application from Thermo Fisher within 24 hours. He said that would create 1.4 million more tests next week and 5 million within a month.

Still, Trump said that officials don't want people to take the test unless they have certain symptoms. "It's totally unnecessary," Trump said. He added, "This will pass."

The announcement came as the Trump administration has come under fire for being too slow in making the test available. Trump said he doesn't "take responsibility at all" for the slow roll-out of testing.

As part of his national emergency declaration, Trump also waived interest on federally held student loans and moved to prop up energy markets, by directing the Department of Energy to buy oil to fill the strategic petroleum reserve "'right up to the top." Click here to learn more.

The Associated Press and ABC News contributed to this report.