Apr 15, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Senate Democrats seek $30 billion for national coronavirus testing

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.

Go deeper

Coronavirus cases spike in Texas, Oregon and Arizona

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise, Naema Ahmed/Axios

Texas, Arizona and Oregon saw significant spikes last week in new coronavirus infections, while cases also continued to climb in a handful of states where steady increases have become the norm.

Why it matters: Nationwide, new cases have plateaued over the past week. To get through this crisis and safely continue getting back out into the world, we need them to go down — a lot.

Jun 3, 2020 - Health

DeSantis says Florida bars and clubs can reopen this week

Outdoor restaurant in Fort Lauderdale on May 18. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday that bars and clubs will be allowed to reopen on Friday, as the state continues to scale down restrictions it put in place because of the coronavirus, WCTV reports.

Why it matters: DeSantis ordered bars and clubs to close in mid-March as one of the first actions the state took to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

19 hours ago - Health

HHS requests data on race and ethnicity with coronavirus test results

A nurse writes a note as a team of doctors and nurses performs a procedure on a coronavirus patient in the Regional Medical Center on May 21 in San Jose, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Department of Health and Human Services moved on Thursday to require that an individual's race, ethnicity, age and sex be submitted to the agency with novel coronavirus test results.

Why it matters: Some cities and states have reported the virus is killing black people at disproportionately high rates. There are gaps in the national picture of how many people of color are affected, since the data has not been a requirement for states to collect or disclose.