U.S. Congressman Garret Graves (South Louisiana) announced a new federally-funded testing effort by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to significantly expand coronavirus diagnostic and antibody testing in Louisiana.
“The United States has conducted more coronavirus testing than any other country in the world, but it is still not enough. When you can’t test adequately, you can’t isolate those that are contagious. This results in a burden or threat on 100% of the population in the form of stay home orders, businesses closed and other restrictions – though current known cases in the state affects only 0.1891% of Louisiana’s residents. This $190,781,430 in new federal funding for testing in Louisiana will help us to flip the equation over and identify that fraction of our residents that have coronavirus and free up the rest of our citizens,” Graves bellowed.
U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and President Donald Trump announced the $190 million in new CDC funding for Louisiana to complement the nearly $20 million in cooperative agreement and lab capacity funding previously provided to the state. This new commitment of federal funds is the result of bipartisan legislation Congress passed approximately three weeks ago in the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. U.S. Representatives Ralph Abraham, Clay Higgins, Mike Johnson, Cedric Richmond, Steve Scalise and Graves all supported enactment of the law.
“We have seen massive job loss, economic decline and family businesses going under because of government restrictions. We need to focus on reopening, economic recovery and getting our families working again – not prolonged decline. If invested properly, this record investment in coronavirus testing in Louisiana provides the resources to have robust and extensive data guiding efforts to let us reopen quickly and safely. I encourage our legislators and the governor to quickly tap these resources, implement a comprehensive testing program and get Louisiana open again,” Graves said.
Under the federal program, the State of Louisiana must submit testing goals and a plan to achieve such goals to HHS. According to HHS, the plan must include:
- Number of tests needed, month-by-month to include diagnostic, serological, and other tests, as appropriate
- Month-by-month estimates of laboratory and testing capacity, including related to workforce, equipment and supplies, and available tests
- Description of how the resources will be used for testing, including easing any COVID-19 community mitigation policies
Graves recently announced $2.3 million in funding to address coronavirus testing in underserved areas of south Louisiana.