Shaheen, Pappas call for more testing capacity
By Kristen Carosa
July 22, 2020
MANCHESTER, N.H. — Members of New Hampshire congressional delegation said Wednesday that more COVID-19 testing capacity is needed to ease a national backlog.
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, said she first heard about new issues with backlogs when visiting the National Guard testing site in Concord.
“One of the reasons it has increased is because tests are being sent from a number of the hot spots in the South and the West, where we are seeing a dramatic increase, and they are sending tests to the Northeast because we have not had as many tests,” Shaheen said.
Shaheen said samples are being sent to large commercial labs such as Quest, the same place New Hampshire is sending its asymptomatic samples. That’s causing a delay for Granite Staters that could stretch to a week or more.
“It presents a real challenge for us as we think about how we provide the testing that New Hampshire needs,” Shaheen said.
As the next coronavirus relief package is debated in the U.S. Senate, Shaheen and U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas, D-New Hampshire, said states need more funding to expand their testing capability.
“The news is alarming about the increased lag in getting test results,” Pappas said. “If we can’t get a result in short fashion, then we put more individuals at risk.”
Pappas said the need will be even greater when schools reopen.
“And the testing has to be combined with contact tracing and the availability of treatment, so that we are containing and mitigating COVID, and we’re ultimately reducing the rate,” Pappas said.
Pappas said schools will also need additional funding for things such as sanitizing, barriers and personal protective equipment.