(BOP) - The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) recently began expanding COVID-19 testing of inmates utilizing the Abbott ID NOW instrument for Rapid RNA testing at select facilities experiencing widespread transmission. The BOP continues to provide testing for COVID-19, symptomatic inmates, as recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The BOP received ten Abbott ID NOW instruments on April 10, 2020, and a day later, 264 test kits were deployed to institutions with known COVID-19 cases. Their primary role is for rapid testing of newly symptomatic cases to confirm the diagnosis quickly.
Additionally, asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic inmates can be positive for COVID-19 and can transmit the virus to other inmates. Expanding the testing with the Abbott ID NOW instruments on these inmates will assist the BOP in slowing transmission by identifying those asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic individuals who test positive and isolating them quickly and then quarantining contacts.
Next week, the BOP will receive ten additional Abbott ID NOW instruments. The deployment of these additional resources will be based on facility need to contain widespread transmission and the need for early, aggressive interventions required to slow transmission at facilities with a high number of at-risk inmates such as medical referral centers. The BOP's expanded testing with the Abbott ID NOW instrument is being conducted in collaboration with public health entities to improve the BOP's ability to manage COVID-19, particularly at facilities experiencing widespread transmission.
Note that while additional testing of asymptomatic inmates will assist in slowing transmissions within a correctional setting, it will also increase the number of COVID-19 positive tests reflected on the BOP's COVID-19 resource page on the agency's public website. The BOP will, however, be able to better utilize this information for the management of an outbreak at the affected facility.