WASHINGTON – Members of the Maryland congressional delegation, including U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressmen Steny H. Hoyer, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, John P. Sarbanes, Andy Harris, M.D., Anthony Brown, Jamie B. Raskin and David Trone, today discussed with Maryland Secretary of Health Robert Neall, Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services Fran Phillips and Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Director Russell Strickland the status of Maryland’s ability to test for COVID-19 and potential ways that the federal delegation can help expand that capacity.
“Responding to the COVID-19 outbreak is a dynamic challenge that depends on the continual exchange of information and ideas among officials from all levels of government, so Team Maryland has and continues to closely coordinate with Governor Hogan and the leaders of key state agencies,” said Senator Cardin. “Secretary Neall, Deputy Secretary Phillips and Director Strickland today discussed the recent enhancements to Maryland’s COVID-19 testing capacity and how much more we need to do to develop the full capacity needed to reopen the state. We will continue working to mobilize all available resources to keep Marylanders safe and healthy.”
“Working together for Marylanders at the federal, state, and local levels is crucial to both a comprehensive and effective COVID-19 response. I appreciate state officials taking the time to hear our concerns and to answer our questions on the issues the state is facing – from outbreaks at our nursing homes to the immediate need for additional testing capacity and making sure critical resources get to where they’re needed most. We will continue to offer our assistance in addressing these issues, and we will keep fighting at the federal level for the resources Maryland needs,” said Senator Van Hollen.
“I appreciate the work Secretary Neall and Director Strickland are doing to protect families in Maryland during this public health crisis,” said Congressman Hoyer. “I share the frustration of many Marylanders about our state’s testing capacity. Our economy, and the livelihood of many, cannot return to normal until we have a significant testing plan in place. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Maryland Delegation to ensure our hospitals, health care workers, nursing homes, and all those on the front line of this epidemic have the supplies they need, and work with our state and local colleagues to increase testing capacity in our region.”
“The key to saving lives and livelihoods is testing, testing, testing,” said Congressman Ruppersberger. “We still have more work to do to achieve short-term goals like universal testing at nursing homes and longer-term goals like fully re-opening our economy. We must continue to collaborate and communicate at the federal, state and local level to defeat this pandemic absent a vaccine.”
“We will continue to work closely with our partners at the state level to expand Maryland’s COVID-19 testing capacity – especially among vulnerable populations like nursing home residents and in underserved communities, where the virus poses significant risks,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “As Congress considers its next coronavirus response package, we will push for additional federal resources to help Maryland conduct more tests, better track the virus, contain clusters of outbreaks and allow healthy Marylanders to get back to work.”
“Hopefully the increased testing capacity we have now can allow us to rapidly re-open low risk businesses while we concentrate on employees in high risk businesses like nursing homes and meat processing plants,” said Representative Harris.
“Testing is the top issue facing Maryland and the country, and we cannot start moving forward towards reopening our state without expanded testing,” said Congressman Brown. “Maryland has to be able to do 10,000 tests a day, but it is clear that as of yet, the state’s testing capacity has not been scaled up significantly. Tests are in high demand – especially in hard-hit jurisdictions like Prince George’s County – and we must work together to ensure Maryland has sufficient swabs, viral transport media and reagents to collect and process tests from significantly more residents in the coming weeks.”
“Without a vaccine, the only way to defeat COVID-19 is through mass testing, rigid contact tracing, commonsense social distancing, and aggressive proactive public health measures to prevent further outbreaks,” said Representative Raskin. “The Maryland congressional delegation is committed to working with our state and local partners to ensure that health and emergency management officials are able to dramatically expand testing capacity across the state to ensure the health of our people and a safe and successful reopening.”
“Marylanders are ready to get back to work, but that won’t be possible until we have a dramatic expansion of testing, a robust contact tracing initiative, and continued guidance from our nation’s top public health experts,” said Congressman Trone. “Our federal, state, and local partners need to work together as Team Maryland to expand our testing capacity to keep every Marylander safe and our economy strong.”