King, Murkowski Introduce Legislation to Enhance Testing, Tracing Protocols

TRACE Act would support needed data collection efforts to begin to contain coronavirus

U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) have introduced legislation to establish a grant program through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help enhance coronavirus testing, contact tracing, and supported isolation efforts. The COVID-19 Testing, Reaching, And Contacting Everyone (TRACE) Act’s grants could be used to support programs that use mobile health units or work through community-based organizations, provide coronavirus testing, conduct contact tracing, or offer assistance to individuals who quarantine after a positive test or contact with someone who has contracted the coronavirus.

“We can’t sit back and hope that coronavirus simply disappears – in order to save lives, we need to act with urgency,” said Senator King. “Testing, tracing, and supported isolation have been proven effective across the globe, and we have the ability to implement these techniques; we’re just missing the funds, and the political will.  America represents 4 percent of the world population, and 25 percent of its cases – we can and must do better. This bipartisan legislation will take important, needed steps to get this virus under control and protect our communities from this deadly virus.”

“Putting a stop to COVID-19 requires an all-hands-on-deck, multifaceted approach at the federal, state, and local level. I have been a strong advocate of increased testing and contact tracing, so I am glad to join Senator King in introducing the TRACE Act,” said Senator Murkowski. “Alaska has unfortunately seen a drastic uptick in coronavirus cases over the past few weeks, and those numbers continue to rise. This proposed grant program would provide the necessary resources to local stakeholders who have the capacity to partner with the state on contact tracing and testing. This much-needed support would ensure that all of our communities, no matter how rural, have access to efficient testing and contact tracing.”

The TRACE Act’s grant program will be available to Federally Qualified Health Centers, School-Based Health Clinics, Disproportionate Share Hospitals, academic medical centers, nonprofit organizations (including faith-based organizations), Indian tribes and tribal organizations, and institutions of higher education. Priority will be given to projects proposed in hot spots and medically underserved communities, projects that will hire local residents to serve their communities, contract tracing projects that demonstrate prior relevant experience, or programs that commit to distributing at least 30 percent of the grant to county or local health departments.

This bill does not mandate testing, contact tracing, or quarantining for positive cases. It also does not authorize anyone to enter a private home, for whatever reason, without permission, nor does it allow the government to remove anyone from a private home because of the coronavirus.

Related Issues: Health, COVID-19 Resource Page