Walden releases COVID-19 second wave preparedness recommendations

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), ranking member of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee, this week released several testing and surveillance recommendations from committee Republicans that federal officials should consider to prepare Americans for expected spikes in COVID-19 infections.

“As the country continues to reopen while simultaneously preparing for a potential uptick in COVID-19 infections — or ‘second wave’ — in the fall and winter months, Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans are working to ensure states have the tools and resources they will need to protect public health,” said Rep. Walden and U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY), who leads the U.S. House E&C Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, in a joint statement released on Wednesday.

The testing and surveillance recommendations contained in “COVID-19 Second Wave Preparedness Part 1: Testing & Surveillance,” are the first in a series of working documents. Additional recommendations on other topics related to COVID-19 will be released in the coming months, according to the members, who said their approach complements the efforts included in President Donald Trump’s strategic plan submitted to Congress on May 24.

“For several months, Energy and Commerce Committee staff have been researching every aspect of this public health crisis,” Rep. Walden and Rep. Guthrie said. “They’ve interviewed public health experts in order to examine and document what resources our nation has available, the challenges we could face in the months ahead, and provide recommendations to improve our preparedness and response going forward.”

Among numerous key recommendations in the report, Congress and the Executive Branch should consider what diagnostic tests and testing supplies, and at what level, should be included in the Strategic National Stockpile, according to the report’s summary. 

Additionally, states, working with the federal government, should determine a strategy that utilizes all available testing resources, including rapid point-of-care diagnostic testing, high-throughput laboratory testing, and antibody testing.

And Public Health Laboratories should be modernized to provide access to high throughput, yet flexible, testing equipment, similar to what is used by large commercial laboratories, among many other recommendations.

“Congress and the administration must work together to address this crisis,” Rep. Walden and his colleague said. “As you’ll see from this report, Republicans have a plan to work alongside the president to defeat this invisible enemy and get our country back on a path to prosperity.”