NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. –
The Defense Logistics Agency has been working with the U.S. Postal Service since mid-January to pack and distribute 500 million free COVID-19 at-home tests to American households.
In response to the Omicron surge, the White House announced the government would make free rapid tests available to all Americans. The White House tasked the HHS Coordination Operation and Response Element (H-CORE) in the Department of Health and Human Services to create a COVID-19 test kit working group, which included members from the Defense Department, HHS’s Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and USPS to implement an end-to-end supply chain to deliver the tests. DLA was tasked with distributing the tests to the USPS for final destination mailing.
On Jan. 19, the White House launched the website COVIDTests.gov for Americans to request the free at-home COVID-19 tests and, by Feb. 22, DLA Distribution shipped over 305 million ordered tests — 1,133 truckloads— to the USPS.
DLA Distribution is receiving and processing up to 82 inbound and outbound truckloads daily, 52 at a DLA Distribution-contracted warehouse in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania; 25 at DLA Distribution San Joaquin, California, and five at a DLA Distribution-contracted warehouse in Marengo, Indiana. A Joint Operations Center provides 24/7 tracking, and existing storage and distribution contracts are being modified to ensure workers and space requirements can meet the accelerated distribution plan.
“We’re grateful for another opportunity to support the nation’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. I know our team will once again demonstrate its expertise in rapidly distributing critical supplies to mitigate the impacts of this dreadful virus,” said Army Col. Trent Conner, commander of DLA Distribution Susquehanna, Pennsylvania.
As test kits arrive, DLA Distribution workers offload, stage and complete paperwork. Defense Contract Management Agency teams at both warehouses perform quality checks before test kits are sent to USPS service hubs in New Jersey, Maryland, Texas, Indiana and California. From those hubs, the USPS handles fulfillment and shipment of test kits to Americans’ doorsteps.
Sixteen DLA Distribution Expeditionary team members from New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, deployed to Chambersburg with DLA Contingency Information Technology and Industrial Engineering Support to set up initial operations. The expeditionary team remained on-site until systems were in place for about 30 contracted employees who assumed the work in late-January. A DLA Distribution expeditionary team from San Joaquin is also helping at the California location, where DLA employees are handling the workload.
Brent Ingraham, executive director of DoD’s Joint Rapid Acquisition Cell, visited the Chambersburg warehouse Feb. 8 to tour the operation and thank whole-of-government partners supporting the mission.
“It was an absolute pleasure to witness first had the professionalism of the DLA and DCMA teams executing such an important mission for the American people. These agencies have been performing exceptionally and there is a direct correlation in their performance to the dedication and sense of service demonstrated daily in these organizations,” he said.
DLA Distribution anticipates receiving up to 52 million tests, or 5,200 pallets, every week at both locations until the mission is complete. Outbound shipments will also flow daily to 12 USPS sites where COVID-19 cases are surging.