NEW YORK – President-elect Joseph R. Biden unveiled on Thursday his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, a legislative package to help the US tackle the COVID-19 epidemic, which includes $50 billion to expand testing for the virus.
Under the plan, the money would be invested “in a massive expansion of testing,” providing funding for the purchase of rapid tests and investments to expand lab capacity. It would also offer support to schools and local governments to help them implement regular testing protocols. “Expanded testing will ensure that schools can implement regular testing to support safe reopening; that vulnerable settings like prisons and long-term care facilities can regularly test their populations; and that any American can get a test for free when they need one,” according to a statement about the plan.
The $1.9 trillion plan also includes investments in a national vaccination program and funding for 100,000 public health workers to perform vaccine outreach and contact tracing. In addition, the plan provides funding for health services for underserved populations, such as expanding community health centers and increasing health services on tribal lands.
$30 billion, separate from the $50 billion for mass testing, is also earmarked to invest in the Disaster Relief Fund to provide supplies, including glass vials and testing reagents, and protective gear for frontline workers. An additional $10 billion will be invested to expand domestic manufacturing for pandemic supplies.
Julie Khani, president of the American Clinical Laboratory Association, said in a statement the organization is committed to supporting the plan, adding “President-elect Biden’s plan takes critical and necessary steps to address core challenges that have persisted since the outset of this pandemic.”
“Meeting the evolving needs of patients nationwide requires significant investment in high precision instruments, adequate testing supplies, a highly trained workforce, modernized reporting systems, cutting edge research, and specialized transportation logistics,” Khani said.