February 3, 2021 Media

Colorado Politics: Rep. Diana DeGette leads bipartisan legislation to boost national COVID-19 testing capacity

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette on Wednesday introduced legislation that would “dramatically” expand COVID-19 diagnostic testing with up to $750 million in grants to public health laboratories, hospitals and other health care providers.

“Public health experts agree that to end this pandemic we must take steps now to increase testing throughout the country,” the Denver Democrat said. “The sooner we’re able to increase our testing capacity — and make those tests readily available to everyone — the sooner we will be on track toward ending this crisis.”

DeGette wrote the bipartisan bill with U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon, an Indiana Republican. The legislation combines several proposals the pair introduced last year into a single package, dubbed the Access to Technology and Equipment for Same-day Tests — or TESTS — Act.

The bill would authorize the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide grants to laboratories to buy automatic, high-capacity testing equipment that allow labs to process thousands of COVID-19 tests at a time, possibly sharply cutting the wait-time for patients to get results.

It would also fund same-day testing in hospitals, physicians’ offices and clinics in rural and medically underserved areas of the country.

Said Bucshon: “Until COVID-19 vaccines are widely distributed, and enough Americans have been vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, the key to staying ahead of the virus and keeping Americans safe, reopening the economy and limiting the spread of the virus is to continue expanding our nation’s ability to rapidly test and isolate potential new cases.”