WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) introduced the Timely and Effective Systematic Testing (TEST) Act, bipartisan legislation to strengthen the nation’s health preparedness efforts for COVID-19 recovery and future pandemics by requiring a plan for diagnostic testing and public health system integration to better detect infectious diseases, prevent outbreaks, and avoid future economic shutdowns related to pandemics. The senators worked with Dr. Scott Gottlieb, 23rd Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and leading expert in the field, to develop this legislation.
“From the start, federal health officials have been behind the curve in assessing the public health threat of COVID-19, in part due to a severe deficiency in real-time health data,” Senator Romney said. “We have got to have more reliable data so that the American people know where the greatest risks lie. To accomplish this end, our bill will establish the infrastructure to help identify gaps in reporting and update disease monitoring systems. With this data, we will be better equipped to fight a potential second wave of COVID-19 and any future pandemic our country faces down the road.”
“In order to fully beat the COVID-19 pandemic, we must be able to rapidly and accurately see where the illness is and is not,” Senator Gardner said. “The TEST Act provides the key components of detecting and preventing outbreaks. I’m proud to partner with my colleagues Senators Bennet, Romney, and Sinema to enhance our capability to contain COVID-19 and improve our capacity to respond to future outbreaks.”
“In order to combat COVID-19 and safely reopen our economy at the same time, we need a nationwide, coordinated system to track cases,” Senator Bennet said. “The TEST Act would help integrate local and federal reporting systems by breaking down current silos to better monitor COVID-19 cases and virus outbreaks. This bill builds on my proposal to create a Health Force to bolster public health infrastructure and train Americans to fight this virus, and would ensure all levels of government have the best systems to report data. The TEST Act will help instill confidence in the economy as we start to reopen.”
“Requiring comprehensive reporting and data sharing on the coronavirus will help stop the spread now and protect Arizonans from future waves of the pandemic by strengthening our contact tracing and testing efforts,” Senator Sinema said.
The TEST Act is endorsed by the National Restaurant Association, the American Society for Microbiology, the National Retail Federation, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the International Franchise Association, the U.S. Travel Association, the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators & Developers, and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association.
To achieve containment and build capacity to solve the COVID-19 Pandemic and prevent future pandemics, the TEST Act:
- Integrates existing disease detection systems and expands our capability to conduct and report rapid and accurate diagnostic tests in order to better prevent the spread of a disease. This includes federal coordination with state, local, tribal, and territorial health officials.
- Strengthens the nation’s commitment to public health preparedness by making conducting and reporting on rapid and accurate laboratory tests for diseases a top priority within the National Health Security Strategy—the nation’s strategic plan to identify, prevent, and address public health threats and other emergencies.
- Provides grants to state and local public health departments to support testing and reporting capacity.
- Maintains all health information privacy laws and patient protections.
- Establishes strict congressional oversight to ensure success.