Detroit, MI- Today, Representatives Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Brenda L. Lawrence (MI-14), and Andy Levin (MI-09) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar requesting information on the department’s plan for increasing testing capabilities across the United States.
“As one of the nation’s hot spots for COVID-19, it is critical that the federal government provides states like Michigan with the resources and direction they need to combat this virus,” stated Rep. Lawrence. “Moving forward, the ability to conduct mobile and large scale testing will be critically important to ensure our health departments get a better understanding of the spread of this virus. Secretary Azar must quickly develop a strategic testing plan and distribute these funds so states can actively ramp up their ability to test.”
“Every single day our government goes without a plan that implements comprehensive testing for all is a failure for long underserved communities grappling with the already devastating losses they’ve suffered in this crisis, including the life of a five-year-old child in my district,” Congresswoman Tlaib said. “The expansion of mobile testing is a much-needed step in the right direction towards ensuring everyone, regardless of race or economic status, has access to testing. I am proud to join my colleagues in urging Secretary Azar to use the recent boost in funding his department received to implement it.”
“Until there is a cure or a vaccine for COVID-19, testing at scale will remain an absolutely necessary tool for working our way out of this health emergency,” said Rep. Andy Levin. “We need answers from Secretary Azar on how his agency and the rest of the federal government are working to coordinate widespread testing and get a handle on the spread of this disease. I’m proud to work with Reps. Lawrence and Tlaib, two of my colleagues who have shown great leadership during this crisis, to protect the health and well-being of Michiganders and all Americans.”
The members wrote: “States like Michigan are eager to demonstrate their leadership and ability to provide large scale testing, including ramping up the capacity to do mobile testing. To do that, the federal government must use its expansive network and resources to provide states with testing kits and supplies necessary to match the demand. With an additional tranche of funding set to be distributed for expanding testing, states are still awaiting guidance on the dissemination of said funds.”
Text for the letter can be found here.
Last week, Congress passed the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, an interim COVID-19 funding package that included $25 billion for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to increase testing capabilities, of which $11 billion will be distributed to the states. The legislation also required HHS to develop a strategic testing plan, including a focus on increasing hospital-based, point-of-care, and mobile testing.