Statement: Funding for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing is vital to curb the virus

Media Contacts
Matt Wellington

Former Director, Public Health Campaigns, PIRG

U.S.PIRG responds to reports that the White House wants to omit crucial funding from the next coronavirus relief bill.


WASHINGTON — Reports emerged over the weekend that the Trump Administration is working to block the Senate from funding coronavirus (COVID-19) testing and contact tracing — identifying infected people and people who they came in contact with. This is just the latest example of the federal government ignoring the consensus of public health experts and downplaying the role of testing in clamping down on the pandemic.  

In response to these reports, U.S. PIRG Public Health Campaigns Director Matthew Wellington issued the following statement:

“The debate over whether or not to include COVID-19 testing and contact tracing in the Senate coronavirus relief bill is a sign of the Trump Administration’s misplaced priorities.

“Public heath officials have been clear from the beginning that to contain the virus we need widespread fast and accurate testing capacity and a workforce of contact tracers. Right now we’re not even close in either area. 

  • We have 35 percent of the testing we need to test everyone with flu-like symptoms and anyone they’ve had close contact with.

  • Many people have to wait a week or more for test results, despite a recent study saying that a delay of 3 days makes it nearly impossible to slow the spread of the virus.

  • In April, public health leaders called for 180,000 contact tracers. Those needs have only increased as cases have risen, but most states are far short of the number of contact tracers they need. 

“Despite clear evidence for several months of what we need, President Trump has consistently downplayed the need for testing. The Senate has an opportunity to provide the national coordination and funding we need to turn around our testing and tracing shortfall. We urge them to give states and doctors the resources they need to curb the spread of COVID-19.” 


U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups, is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society.

It is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to getting things done.