President Trump released his “Blueprint for Testing Plans and Rapid Response Programs,” intended to supplement his administration’s “Opening up America Again Guidelines” and support States in establishing robust testing plans.
Overall, the plan briefly outlines how the federal government plans to support state and local governments, and partner with private entities, to support a nationwide testing strategy. It emphasizes the need to targetedly test asymptomatic patients and employ contact tracing measures. The administration also highlights upcoming efforts, including supporting the development of additional, novel testing technologies and preparing for the concurrence of the upcoming flu season.
Of note, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) released a statement in response to the Blueprint. She stated the plan does “nothing new” and does not include “numeric goals” or a “timeframe” for implementation. She also criticized the administration “[shirking] obviously federal responsibilities by assigning them solely to states instead.”
Last, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (full summary here) requires HHS to submit its own national COVID-19 testing strategy to Congress (due 30 days after enactment). The administration’s plan released yesterday does not appear to satisfy the criteria and detail required by statute to constitute a plan:
- Assist states, localities, territories, and tribes in understanding COVID-19 testing for both active infection and prior exposure, including hospital-based testing, high-complexity laboratory testing, point-of-care testing, mobile-testing units, testing for employers and other settings, and other tests as necessary;
- Include estimates of testing production that account for new and emerging technologies, as well as guidelines for testing;
- Address how the HHS Secretary will increase domestic testing capacity, including testing supplies;
- Address disparities; and
- Outline federal resources that are available to support testing plans of each state, locality, territory, and tribe.