The White House said Thursday the federal government will purchase 150 million COVID-19 tests from Abbott Laboratories, a new product that has the company laying plans to hire 2,000 people in Gurnee.
The Trump administration said it will buy the tests for $5 each, spending $750 million in total, and distribute them throughout the country. Abbott has developed the tests, called BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card, to satisfy a demand for reliable, convenient and low-cost tests. And the company said it delivers results in 15 minutes.
“This is a major development that will help save more lives by further protecting America’s most vulnerable and allow our country to remain open, get Americans back to work, and get kids back to school,” the White House said in a statement.
Lake County-based Abbott did not comment on the announcement. But it did issue word about its plans to fill 2,000 temporary jobs at the Gurnee site that will produce the tests.
Abbott said the jobs will be in place “for the foreseeable future” but did not give a more specific timetable. Abbott said many positions will not require technical experience and will include on-the-job training.
BinaxNOW received emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday. The test is about the size of a credit card and requires no special equipment, but must be administered by a health care professional.
Abbott said it expects the Gurnee site at 605 Tri State Parkway to be operating in a couple of weeks. With Gurnee and another site operating in Maine, Abbott said it will ship tens of million of tests in September and ramp up to 50 million tests per month as of October. At that rate, the federal government would be getting three months’ production.
Executives said the test’s fast turnaround will allow more people who are infected with COVID-19 to quickly self-quarantine. Abbott also has developed a free app that will give people who test negative a “digital health pass” useful for employers or others who need evidence a person is not harboring the virus.
Job applicants are urged to send an email to RecruitingProject@abbott.com and put Gurnee in the subject line.