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House Democrats Call to Increase Funding for Coronavirus Testing and Tracing

Jericho Casper

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Photo of Rep. Derek Kilmer by Ronald Woan used with permission

July 20, 2020 — As the United States fosters record breaking infection rates of COVID-19 and looks toward a second wave, it is clear that the crisis will be continuing for some time to come, said members of Congress on Monday.

In a conference call sponsored by the New Democrat Coalition, representatives discussed what Americans can expect in coming federal aid packages, agreeing that in order to tackle subsequent waves of the disease, America is going to need “a bigger boat.”

The White House is currently pushing to block federal money in upcoming coronavirus relief bills from being utilized for health efforts like coronavirus testing and contact tracing as well as funding for the Center for Disease Control, indicating future speedbumps on the country’s road to physical and economic recovery.

“Economic recovery goes hand in hand with health recovery,” argued Rep. Ann Kuster, D-N.H. In order to help the economy, she said, “we have got to get a handle on this virus.”

House Democrats laid out their priorities for upcoming bills, stating that the implementation of a system to meets the immediate needs of the public is past due.

Members of the panel called for strong federal leadership and a coordinated national effort led by science, including increased coronavirus testing initiatives.

Further, representatives said that any future federal aid package should include federal funding for mental and physical telehealth services, which would require increasing accessibility to broadband infrastructure.

“We are only asking that the resources that are used to keep the President safe are used to keep the constituents safe,” said Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash.

More funding should also be dedicated to contact tracing and surveillance efforts, the legislators said, arguing that contact tracing has been key to lowering transmission rates.

“The virus is so rampant in the Sun Belt, they will not be able to continue without contact tracing,” Kilmer said.

The only way the country will be able to send kids back to school is with increased access to contact tracing and coronavirus testing, he added.

Participating House Democrats further discussed the importance of responding to increased demands for universal access to healthcare and unemployment relief, as a quarter of the U.S. workforce is currently unemployed.

Representatives briefly celebrated the passage of the $3 billion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, which moved out of the House over two months ago.

As the country continues to wait on the Senate to act, panelists agreed that there is much work to be done.

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