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May 01, 2020

Md. lawmakers want NIH, Walter Reed made available for local Covid-19 testing

Credit: Baltimore Business Journal, Drew Hansen

Members of Maryland’s congressional delegation are urging President Donald Trump to make the national capital region a federally supported Covid-19 testing site.

In a letter sent to the White House on Tuesday, Reps. Anthony Brown, Steny Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Andy Harris, Jamie Raskin and David Trone, as well as Sen. Chris Van Hollen, said the designation would make federal facilities available in the region to expand Covid-19 testing capacity.

Top elected leaders in D.C., Maryland and Virginia have all cited increased testing capacity as a key to reopening the local economy in a safe manner.

The Maryland leaders said federal facilities like the National Institutes of Health and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, both in Bethesda, as well as the state’s military facilities, would be able to support testing operations — primarily in the processing of tests — through the federal designation.

“The region is crucial to the national response in providing medical guidance, granting research funds for treatments, issuing tax rebates, guaranteeing our distribution networks are operational, and other crucial functions,” the letter says. “As such, it is even more critical that this region have the testing capacity that it needs, in order to ensure the federal government continues to operate at full capacity, and that we prevent any secondary impacts that would result in further loss of life.”

The Maryland officials cited a statement made April 20 by Vice President Mike Pence saying the federal government would make “those laboratories available.” They requested a timeline for implementation and information on capacity made available to Maryland at each facility.