O’Halleran urges coordinated, national testing strategy

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran has called for more COVID-19 testing.

Contributed Article

VILLAGE OF OAK CREEK — Today, as some states, including Arizona, begin the first phases of reopening procedures, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, urging the federal government to clearly articulate how the government will adequately scale and deploy COVID-19 testing, antibody testing, and contact tracing resources to deal with potential “hot spots.”

“By placing the responsibility of creating widespread COVID-19 testing, antibody testing, and contact tracing programs on overextended state, county, local, and tribal governments, we are only likely to prolong this crisis,” wrote O’Halleran. “I fear that, without substantial federal government investment and oversight, COVID-19 will resurge and place significant strains on our health system, our economy, and our way of life.”

In the letter, O’Halleran asks:

  1. How will the White House and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) define a “hot spot”?
  2. When a hot spot is identified and defined, what specific resources in terms of PPE, COVID-19 testing kits, antibody kits, and contact tracers will the federal government provide impacted state, county, tribal, and local officials?
  3. What is the government’s plan to properly scale the number of COVID-19 testing kits, antibody tests, and contact tracers to safely reopen the economy without worsening the pandemic?

“I urge you to reconsider the current federal approach to ensure that the United States government leads the response, instead of relying on many differently resourced and disparate state, county, local, and tribal governments to scale up much-needed testing capacity,” continued O’Halleran. “This is the only way that we can allow Americans to get back to work, get back to school, and begin to see a return to normalcy.”

View the full letter, here.

Background

Last month, O’Halleran sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence urging the White House Coronavirus Task Force to amend the federal government’s approach that requires that states bid for testing kits against each other, as well as against the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). That approach still stands.

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