NH to receive $61 million in federal funds for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing
By John DiStaso
May 13, 2020
MANCHESTER, N.H. — New Hampshire’s congressional delegation announced Wednesday that the state will receive more than $61 million in federal funds for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.
The funding is part of a $25 billion that was directed for testing nationally in the most recent federal relief package passed overwhelmingly by the House and Senate and signed by President Donald Trump on April 24. That bill totaled more than $480 billion.
The funding comes as Gov. Chris Sununu and the Department of Health and Human Services are ramping up testing with the goal of conducting as many as 1,500 coronavirus tests each day for people with symptoms of the virus.
Democrats were criticized for holding out for several days after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sought a vote on am initial $250 billion plan to revive the then-depleted Paycheck Protection Program. After the holdout, the bill was nearly doubled in size to include the testing funding, $75 billion for hospitals and more.
The four members of the delegation praised the influx of funding to the state.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said that widespread testing and contact tracing are necessary to reopening the economy and she accused the Trump administration of being unable to make the tests widely available and to establish a tracing program.
“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,” Shaheen said. “I will also continue to insist that the Trump administration finally develop nationwide programs in these areas so that New Hampshire and states across the country do not have to fend for themselves.”
Sen. Maggie Hassan echoed Shaheen on the importance of broad testing and contact tracing and said she 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.”
Rep. Annie Kuster called for a national testing strategy and contact tracing in a plan she released last week, “Roadmap to Recovery.”
“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,” she said.
Rep. Chris Pappas said the nation’s COVID-19 testing capacity has been “woefully inadequate.”
“COVID-19 testing and contact tracing is a matter of life and death for Granite Staters,” Pappas said. “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 delegation says it has been calling for additional funding for testing since February and last week announced more than $2.4 million to expand testing in community health centers.