The reality that Donald Trump refuses to face (well, one of them anyway) is that the economy can't be reopened until there's universal testing to find out how prevalent the novel coronavirus infection still is in the population. That's a very basic public health issue, but the basics are something he just can't comprehend. Senate Democrats, on the other hand, get it. They're unveiling a proposal to provide $30 billion in emergency funding for universal testing.
"What I've heard constantly from people in my state is […] where are the tests? It's been a constant refrain from the beginning until today," said Washington's Democratic Sen. Patty Murray. She and Democratic leader Sen. Chuck Schumer rolled out the proposal Wednesday. "The only way we can get our economy back up and running is by addressing the health crisis," Schumer said. He added that until there's a vaccine, testing is the only way to make that happen. The proposal contains money for a testing infrastructure and targets a "significant portion" of the funding to ramping up the manufacturing and supply chain for tests, as well as developing new tests.
The Democrats envision a permanent public health infrastructure around testing and contact tracing, and are recommending that Congress establish a permanent fund for it pegged at $4.5 billion a year. But this emergency funding would be geared toward rolling out same-day testing and results. "If this is mishandled the disease could re-surge," Schumer said. "Testing is the best tool we have to fight the virus today."
The proposal coincides with a new report from Senate Democrats detailing how far behind other counties the U.S. is when it comes to testing. "After 12 weeks, and the appearance of more than 600,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 25,000 deaths, the United States still lacks a national testing strategy to reliably and consistently test patients across the country," the report from Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan states. “Instead, states have been forced to respond with limited federal support, leaving a patchwork of testing efforts across the country, limited data on the spread of the disease, and scarce supplies for testing and protection of health care workers."
"By failing to implement widespread testing months ago, the United States has been left unprepared and our families are paying the price," Sen. Stabenow said in a statement releasing the report. "Democrats are pushing for a national testing strategy in order to protect those on the frontlines of this health care crisis as well as contain the spread of the disease. And we know that rapid testing is the only real way we can feel confident that it is safe to reopen our economy."
If they can just convince Trump that that's how he gets his opened country, maybe they can make it happen.