Trone, Maryland Delegation Members Urge Transparency from State on COVID-19 Testing Plan

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May 29, 2020
Press Release

For Immediate Release

 

Trone, Maryland Delegation Members Urge Transparency from State on COVID-19 Testing Plan

Public Needs Details on how Maryland Plans to Spend $205 Million in Federal Testing Funding and on Strategy to Support Hardest-Hit Communities

 

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Congressman David Trone, (D-Md.) led a letter with members of the Maryland delegation, including Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, and Congressmen Steny H. Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John P. Sarbanes, Kweisi Mfume, Anthony G. Brown, and Jamie B. Raskin, (all D-Md.) urging Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to publicly release his plan on Maryland COVID-19 testing, which he is required to submit tomorrow to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As the members note in their letter, Maryland is receiving $205 million in federal funding to support testing efforts from the Congressionally-passed Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. This legislation, signed into law on April 24, 2020, requires all states utilizing the funding to submit a testing plan to the CDC.

 

“We are pleased that the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, signed into law on April 24, 2020, included $11 billion for states, localities, territories, and tribes for necessary expenses to develop, purchase, administer, process, and analyze COVID-19 tests. The State of Maryland is receiving approximately $205 million from this funding. As you are aware, each state receiving funds must submit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) its plan for COVID-19 testing, including goals for the remainder of calendar year 2020,” the Members begin.

 

They underscore, “As part of this plan, we urge you to outline how you will target testing resources to the hardest hit communities in Maryland, particularly communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Additionally, we urge you to make your plan submission public so Marylanders have a full understanding of the State’s testing goals and how these federal resources will be put to use.”

 

They go on to note the requirements of the plan, including an outline of month-by-month figures on the numbers of tests needed and estimates of testing capacity. They note, “While the State is making progress to expand testing capacity, we are still hearing from localities that more testing capacity is needed, which will be particularly important as the state continues to move forward with reopening.”

 

The Members once again stress the need for a plan to help the communities that have been hit the hardest, stating, “We are also still seeing disturbing racial and ethnic disparities in our state’s COVID-19 infection and mortality rates, which we believe necessitates an aggressive, targeted strategy… The $205 million in federal funds provide our state with important resources to develop a comprehensive testing strategy to address this serious problem.”

 

The full text of the letter is available here and below.

 

Dear Governor Hogan,

 

We are working at the federal level to provide funding and resources to Maryland to bolster the state and local responses to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. We are pleased that the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, signed into law on April 24, 2020, included $11 billion for states, localities, territories, and tribes for necessary expenses to develop, purchase, administer, process, and analyze COVID-19 tests. The State of Maryland is receiving approximately $205 million from this funding. As you are aware, each state receiving funds must submit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) its plan for COVID-19 testing, including goals for the remainder of calendar year 2020. As part of this plan, we urge you to outline how you will target testing resources to the hardest hit communities in Maryland, particularly communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Additionally, we urge you to make your plan submission public so Marylanders have a full understanding of the State’s testing goals and how these federal resources will be put to use.

 

In the plan required by CDC, the State must outline month-by-month figures of the number of tests needed and month-by-month estimates of laboratory and testing capacity (including related to workforce, equipment and supplies, and available tests). Additionally, it must include a description of how the resources will be used for testing, including easing any COVID-19 community mitigation policies. The purpose of the funding is to support state efforts in meeting the testing goals laid out in their COVID-19 testing plans, including purchasing testing supplies. Testing, in addition to robust contact tracing and effective isolation of individuals exposed to the virus, are critical components of a safe reopening. While the State is making progress to expand testing capacity, we are still hearing from localities that more testing capacity is needed, which will be particularly important as the state continues to move forward with reopening.

 

We are also still seeing disturbing racial and ethnic disparities in our state’s COVID-19 infection and mortality rates, which we believe necessitates an aggressive, targeted strategy. For the COVID-19 cases that have race and ethnicity data available, Black Marylanders comprise more than 35% of COVID-19 cases and over 40% of deaths, despite only making up 30% of the population. Hispanics make up 10% of Maryland’s population and represent 30% of cases. The $205 million in federal funds provide our state with important resources to develop a comprehensive testing strategy to address this serious problem.

 

Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter. We will continue to work at the federal level to secure resources for the State of Maryland, and we look forward to working with you to expand our state’s testing capacity.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

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