U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, along with Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline, today announced that $5.4 million in funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act has been distributed to the Rhode Island Department of Health to boost the state’s COVID-19 testing and contract tracing infrastructure.
“This latest installment of federal funds will increase the state’s testing capacity and build on other public health efforts. This is another down payment toward getting COVID-19 testing to where it needs to be for public health,” said Senator Reed in a press release.
“Rhode Island is a national leader in coronavirus testing, thanks to the hard work of Governor Raimondo and a partnership with CVS,” said Whitehouse, a member of the White House’s congressional task force for reopening the economy in the release. “We need to continue to build on that progress. A robust testing and contact tracing infrastructure will help contain the spread of the virus and ultimately lead to reopening more of the economy.”
“I’m pleased that this additional funding from the CDC will help bolster treatment and testing efforts in Rhode Island to contain coronavirus and protect and preserve public health,” said Langevin in the release. “As we make plans to begin reopening the nation, we must acknowledge that lives are still at risk. We must expand the capacity of our health institutions and better support physicians and health workers to get through this pandemic.”
“This new federal funding will amplify the work that Governor Raimondo and the Department of Health are already doing,” said Cicilline in the release. “In order to control the spread of this disease and begin to re-open the economy, we need to first have a strong testing policy in place for all 50 states. I will continue working with my colleagues in the delegation to deliver the resources Rhode Island needs right now.”
The funding was distributed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The grant may be used for a range of activities, including:
· Enhancing the ability to aggressively identify cases, conduct contact tracing and follow up, and implement appropriate containment measures;
· Improving surveillance of patients;
· Expanding testing capacity;
· Controlling COVID-19 in high-risk settings and protecting vulnerable or high-risk populations; and
· Working with healthcare systems to manage and monitor system capacity.
To date, Rhode Island has received $11.5 million in CDC funding to help combat coronavirus. Additionally, the COVID 3.5 bill passed by Congress this evening includes another $17.5 million to quickly expand the state’s testing and contact tracing capacity.
Rhode Island currently ranks first in the nation for coronavirus testing on a per capita basis, with almost 4 percent of the state’s population tested.