Leahy, Sanders, Welch And Scott: Vermont To Receive $55 Million For COVID-19 Testing Efforts

Senator Patrick Leahy (D), Senator Bernie Sanders (I), Representative Peter Welch (D), and Governor Phil Scott (R) Friday announced that the State of Vermont will receive $55,078,471 from the federal government to support COVID-19 testing, including $3.9 million in funding specifically to support testing at community health centers throughout the state.

The funds are a part of the $25 billion for COVID-19 testing funding and strategy included in the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act.  The Department of Health and Human Services will award the funding through a cooperative agreement to the Vermont Department of Health (VDH).

“From the beginning of this crisis, testing has been our best tool for combating COVID-19 and keeping Vermonters safe,” said Leahy.  “That’s why as Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee I’ve pushed to include funding for testing in each of Congress’s four coronavirus response packages.  Vermont has done an incredible job in building up our state’s testing infrastructure so that we can safely open up our economy.  With this funding, Vermont can continue down the path toward reopening while protecting the health and safety of Vermonters.”

“At a time when hundreds of thousands of Vermonters are worried about their health, safety, and economic well-being, it is abundantly clear that must ensure that widespread testing is available to everyone,” said Sanders. “Testing will help our child care centers and summer programs operate safely, our small businesses begin to open, and older Vermonters struggling with loneliness and isolation. Vermont has made important strides in opening up access to testing, but demand remains incredibly high. This funding will help more Vermonters access testing, including at our community health centers, which are the backbone of primary care in communities throughout our state and well-positioned to serve as a provider of this important service.” 

“It’s been proven that testing, contact tracing, and quarantine are the keys to contain this virus and safely reopen the economy, absent a vaccine” said Welch. “This money will allow Vermont to continue to expand its testing capacity to ensure a safe and healthy reopening of the state,” said Welch. “Vermont needs a federal partner that can offer and implement a national strategy, backed by robust funding, to get us on track during and after this unprecedented crisis.”

“COVID-19 testing provides us with the data we need to protect Vermonters and inform our public health response and economic reopening strategy,” said Governor Scott. “We’re grateful for the efforts of Senator Leahy, Senator Sanders and Congressman Welch to secure this critical funding to support our testing and tracing program.”

The State of Vermont has significantly increased its testing capacity since the first COVID-19 case was identified in the state in early March.  The Vermont Public Health Lab, the University of Vermont Medical Center Lab and the Rutland Hospital Lab process hundreds of Vermont tests daily.  On Tuesday, May 12, VDH announced that Vermont has extended free testing to Vermonters without symptoms at pop-up clinics across the state.  Vermont has focused on widely testing availability as its primary strategy to identify and contain future COVID-19 outbreaks.