Apr 15, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Senate Democrats seek $30 billion for national coronavirus testing

Close up of chuck schumer
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Democratic leadership announced Wednesday a plan, authored by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), that calls for $30 billion in emergency funds to bolster national coronavirus testing and contact tracing.

Why it matters: The federal government has had no clear strategy in place to resolve or prevent the shortages of testing supplies that have threatened the U.S. response.

  • While testing capacity currently sits at about 100,000 per day, Murray said during a call with reporters that hundreds of millions more tests are needed.
  • "We need to have testing kits widely available across America," Senate Minority Leader Schumer said. He added that it is "utterly mind-boggling" that President Trump " would choose to focus his energy on a "vendetta" against the World Health Organization instead.

The big picture: Experts say the U.S. will need to run millions of tests each week if social-distancing measures are to be safely lifted.

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said earlier this week that the U.S. does not yet have the testing and contact tracing capacity to reopen the economy.

What to watch: Schumer said that staff will meet with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin today on interim coronavirus funding. "We see no reason why we can't come to an agreement," he said.

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