Saturday, September 19, 2020

HHS Awards Over Half Billion Dollars to Expand COVID-19 Testing

By on May 7, 2020

Puerto Rico health centers receive nearly $8.6 million

SAN JUAN — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), awarded nearly $583 million to 1,385 HRSA-funded health centers to expand COVID-19 testing.

Puerto Rico received nearly $8.6 million to support the following 22 health centers:

“Nearly 88 percent of HRSA-funded health centers report testing patients, with more than 65 percent offering walk-up or drive-up testing. Health centers are currently providing more than 100,000 weekly COVID-19 tests in their local communities,” HHS said in its news release.

The funding is part of the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, signed April 24. The legislation provides funding for small businesses and individuals financially affected by COVID-19, additional funding for hospitals and healthcare providers, and increased testing capabilities to help track the spread and impact of the coronavirus.

“This new funding secured by President Trump will expand the work health centers are doing to test Americans for COVID-19,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “Widespread testing is a critical step in reopening America, and health centers are vital to making testing easily accessible, especially for underserved and minority populations. Further, because health centers can help notify contacts of patients who test positive, they will continue playing an important role in cooperating with state and local public health departments.”

The health centers are expected to use this funding to “expand the range of testing and testing-related activities to best address the needs of their local communities, including the purchase of personal protective equipment; training for staff, outreach, procurement and administration of tests; laboratory services; notifying identified contacts of infected health center patients of their exposure to COVID-19; and the expansion of walk-up or drive-up testing capabilities,” the release reads.

“Health centers are a first line of defense, as they are testing for coronavirus and delivering high-quality primary care to our nation’s most vulnerable populations.” said HRSA Administrator Tom Engels. “In the fight against COVID-19, we must marshal all of our resources to keep Americans healthy and care for those who become ill.”

To date the HRSA had awarded $1.42 billion to health centers to address COVID-19, with the new allotment bringing the total COVID-19 investment in health centers to nearly $2 billion.

For a list of award recipients, visit https://bphc.hrsa.gov/emergency-response/expanding-capacity-coronavirus-testing-FY2020-awards

For more information about health center capacity and the impact of COVID-19 on health center operations, patients and staff, visit https://bphc.hrsa.gov/emergency-response/coronavirus-health-center-data.

For more information about COVID-19, visit http://coronavirus.gov/.

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