NH Delegation Announces $61M Testing, Contact Tracing
May 14, 2020
WASHINGTON, DC — On Wednesday, U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, and U.S. Reps. Ann McLane Kuster and Chris Pappas announced that New Hampshire is receiving $61,056,792 million for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing from the latest response bill that was signed into law.
“Widespread testing and contact tracing are an absolute necessity to re-opening our economy and getting life back to some semblance of normal. Unfortunately, the Trump administration has not been able to make tests widely available or standup a contact tracing program which is why I fought for this funding to support New Hampshire’s testing and contact tracing efforts,” said Shaheen. “As New Hampshire gradually reopens, many sectors of our economy need access to testing quickly in addition to our frontline workers and vulnerable Granite Staters. This funding will support purchasing of testing kits and supplies and expansion of contact tracing in the weeks and months ahead which will help mitigate the spread of this virus. I will also continue to insist that the Trump administration finally develop nation-wide programs in these areas so that New Hampshire, and states across the country, do not have to fend for themselves.”
“Widespread testing for COVID-19 paired with contact tracing to identify and notify others who may have been exposed is vital for saving lives and safely reopening the economy,” said Hassan. “That’s why it’s so important that New Hampshire will receive this substantial federal funding to continue to ramp up its testing capacity, and I will continue to push the administration for an effective nationwide public health strategy that supports New Hampshire’s efforts to protect public health and get our economy moving in the right direction.”
“To effectively respond to the health and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must dramatically increase the availability of testing and bolster contact tracing efforts in New Hampshire,” said Kuster, who has called for a national testing strategy and contact tracing in her Roadmap to Recovery. “This funding is critical to increasing testing and contact tracing in the state. For there to be confidence in public health and safety, we must have a robust testing strategy including readily available testing for those who need it. I will continue to work with my colleagues to expand testing and contact tracing so that we can take steps towards responsibly reopening our economy.”
“Having a comprehensive testing and contact tracing strategy is essential if we are going to reopen our economy safely and successfully overcome this pandemic,” said Pappas. “To date, our capacity to test for COVID-19 has been woefully inadequate, and solving that problem has been a top priority of our mine and our federal delegation. COVID-19 testing and contact tracing is a matter of life and death for Granite Staters. That is why I am pleased New Hampshire is receiving these funds so we can identify infections quickly, keep vulnerable Granite Staters safe, and protect our essential workers. This is a crucial piece of our public health strategy that must be deployed for New Hampshire back on its feet and safely back to work.”
The New Hampshire Congressional Delegation has been adamant about the need for increased testing capabilities. In early February, the delegation called on the President to include in his 2021 budget proposal increased funding levels for federal efforts to support increased COVID-19 testing in states. In March, the delegation and the governor urged the President to speed up the distribution of critical medical supplies, including swabs for diagnostic testing. Last week, the delegation announced more than $2.4 million to expand testing in New Hampshire’s community health centers.
Sens. Shaheen and Hassan called on Vice President Pence and FEMA to conduct a national inventory of COVID-19 testing supplies, publicly release data on testing results and provide a detailed plan and timeline for addressing future shortages and gaps in the testing supply chain. Senator Shaheen recently called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to prioritize COVID-19 testing kits for New Hampshire in reaction to the agency’s inadequate response to the state’s needs, which included sending 15 testing machines but only 120 testing kits for the entire state. Shaheen has also called on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to develop a COVID-19 testing strategy at VA facilities nationwide and establish a framework for a large-scale strategy for national testing. Earlier this month, Senator Shaheen has called for a further $8 billion in funding for national contact tracing initiatives.