Two New Bills

New Federal Legislation Would Give Labs Grants to Expand COVID-19 Testing Capacity

We all hope the worst of the pandemic is over and that life can get back to something like normal. But even as America reopens, the disturbing truth remains that the virus is still out there and that the nation’s labs still lack anything close to the SARS-CoV-2 testing capacity that would be required if another outbreak were to occur. At the end of May, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced two new bills to remedy that situation via providing labs access to grants to enhance their COVID-19 testing capacity.

The Diagnostic Testing for Public Health Labs Act

The first bill, The Diagnostic Testing for Public Health Labs Act, would require the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to offer grants, capped at $2 million per lab, to help public health labs purchase testing platforms and supplies to boost testing capacity. Eligible labs would include state, local, and tribal public health labs, public health labs coordinated by the CDC, and other labs that provide “population-based testing for the prevention and control of infectious, communicable, genetic, or chronic diseases.”

The Rapid Testing for Communities Act

The second bill, the Rapid Testing for Communities Act, would require the CDC to award grants to healthcare providers to support SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic testing outside of a lab, prioritizing underserved and rural areas. The grants would be used to purchase equipment and supplies to perform same-day diagnostic testing at the point of care. Grants would be capped at $20,000.

Takeaway

Both bills were introduced by U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Colorado) and Larry Bucshon (R-Indiana). Thus, while the recent federal COVID-19 relief legislation didn’t provide anywhere near the support labs require to develop the capacity they need to meet the historic demands for SARS-CoV-2 testing, it’s comforting to know that there’s an active bipartisan group in the House working hard to right the situation.

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