Under pressure over virus, Trump to announce more tests for states

WASHINGTON, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Under pressure over his handling of the coronavirus outbreak, U.S. President Donald Trump planned to announce on Monday that the government would distribute millions of rapid tests to states this week with an eye towards using them to reopen schools.

Trump was set to announce the plan at a White House event scheduled for 3:30 p.m. EDT (1930 GMT).

A senior administration official, confirming a report by The Associated Press, said 6.5 million tests will go out this week. The official said about 100 million tests will be distributed to states in the coming weeks.

Trump wants the tests to help efforts to reopen schools that have been closed due to the pandemic.

Trump is trying to show progress in the battle against the new coronavirus as he fights for re-election in his Nov. 3 matchup against Democrat Joe Biden. The first presidential debate will be held on Tuesday night in Cleveland, Ohio.

The U.S. government will send an “overwhelming majority” of the 150 million rapid COVID-19 tests it purchased from Abbott Laboratories in August to governors of states and territories to support school reopenings and other critical tasks, an administration official said at a press briefing earlier this month.

Abbott has said it would scale its production capacity to 50 million tests per month by October and that it could currently produce “tens of millions” of the tests, indicating it will take at least a few months for the tests to be fully distributed to states and territories. (Reporting By Steve Holland and Carl O’Donnell; Editing by Bernadette Baum)