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Peterson, Vela, Blunt Rochester Call for $250B in Testing and Tracing for American Public

 


WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a letter to House and Senate Leadership Thursday, Congressman Collin Peterson, Chair of the House Agriculture Committee, Congressman Filemon Vela of Texas, and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware urged the prioritization of $250 billion for a robust plan to test and provide contact tracing for frontline healthcare, first responders, and food and agricultural workers.

“As we have seen, essential workers and seniors are bearing the brunt of the impact of this virus, while minority communities have been disproportionately affected. Our health care, food and agriculture, law enforcement and first responders are doing the critical work needed to keep our nation safe and fed. We must keep these critical workers safe as well,” wrote the members in the letter. “Testing is the number one way to give us an objective, data-driven assessment of where we stand in our fight against this virus.”

The lawmakers underscored that any movement to reopen economies at the state or national level must be accompanied with the level of testing they call for in the letter.

“Americans must feel a sense of security that local, state and federal entities, as well as public health officials, feel confident in reopening our economy,” they wrote. “A robust plan of action for testing and contact tracing will provide that sense of security, as well as the vital data and information we need so that our nation and economy can begin to heal and recover from this devastating virus.”

The full letter is below and here.

May 7, 2020

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Minority Leader McCarthy, Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer:

As you finalize discussions on the next stimulus package, one item that is critical in ensuring that the American public, our nation’s workers and our nation’s economy can return to a new normal as soon as possible is the need for a robust plan of action for testing and contact tracing. In order to achieve this goal, we need an investment of $250 billion in funding so that Americans can return to work as safely as possible, and to avert a second wave of outbreaks in the U.S., which would wreak further havoc on our nation’s economy.

While we have made some gains in our nation’s testing capacity, with numbers now at 1.6 million diagnostic tests per week, health care experts say we are still woefully short of the estimated 30 million tests per week needed. Unfortunately, this administration has failed to develop a national action plan, and it is therefore incumbent on Congress to provide the funds needed to execute this national testing strategy.

Testing is the number one way to give us an objective, data-driven assessment of where we stand in our fight against this virus. Additional measures like contact tracing will allow us to identify additional cases and provide health care workers and impacted patients with the information they need to properly respond by isolating and quarantining those individuals sick with the virus. By executing a robust, proactive response effort, we can stifle further outbreaks.

As we have seen, essential workers and seniors are bearing the brunt of the impact of this virus, while minority communities have been disproportionately affected. Our health care, food and agriculture, law enforcement and first responders are doing the critical work needed to keep our nation safe and fed. We must keep these critical workers safe as well. Priority should, therefore, be given to health care workers on the frontlines, law enforcement, minority communities, seniors and food and agriculture workers as well as those showing symptoms. As more tests become available, we can expand the pool of individuals being tested.

While there have been some calls to reopen the American economy now, the vast majority of the American public recognizes that we must do this in an orderly and safe manner. Americans must feel a sense of security that local, state and federal entities, as well as public health officials, feel confident in reopening our economy. A robust plan of action for testing and contact tracing will provide that sense of security, as well as the vital data and information we need so that our nation and economy can begin to heal and recover from this devastating virus.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Filemon Vela Collin Peterson Lisa Blunt Rochester

Member of Congress Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

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