Members of the Palm Beach County delegation in Congress and the Florida Legislature teamed up on Monday to write U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Sec. Alex Azar and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Peter Gaynor calling on them to expand coronavirus testing.
U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., Lois Frankel, D-Fla., Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., and Brian Mast, R-Fla., signed the letter. So did state Sens. Lori Berman, D-Boynton Beach, Gayle Harrel, R-Stuart, Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach, and Kevin Rader, D-Boca Raton.
In the Florida House, state Reps. Mike Caruso, R-Delray Beach, Joe Casello, D-Boynton Beach, Al Jacquet, D-Riviera Beach, MaryLynn Magar, R-Tequesta, Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton, Rick Roth, R-West Palm Beach, David Silvers, D-Lake Clarke Shores, Emily Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, and Matt Willhite, D-Wellington, signed the letter.
“On Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis announced the launch of a drive-up Community Based Testing Site in Palm Beach County. The site will be operated by the State, National Guard, and County partners. While the majority of confirmed cases are in South Florida, Palm Beach County trails neighboring counties in testing, with nearly 2,000 tests so far compared to more than 7,000 tests in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties,” Frankel’s office noted.
The letter is below.
Dear Secretary Azar and Administrator Gaynor:
As members of the Palm Beach County, Florida legislative delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Florida legislature we write to strongly urge you to offer support for the recently announced novel coronavirus (COVID-19) Community Based Testing Site in the county.
Palm Beach County has the third-most confirmed cases of any county and is part of the tri-county area that makes up more than half of the current 4,038 confirmed statewide. Friday, March 27, 2020, Governor DeSantis announced that he will establish a new Community Based Testing Site in Palm Beach County to be operated in coordination with the National Guard and county government. We ask that both the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency offer robust support for this new site to ensure its success.
Expansion of testing for the virus is necessary to prevent overwhelming our hospitals. Without it, Palm Beach County has closed non-essential businesses and some residents have been ordered to stay home. If we want to move away from blunt social distancing measures and ease the burden on the economy, we need more testing and aggressive contact tracing to slow the spread of the virus and protect our constituents.
The new testing site will not be able to operate at full capacity without support from HHS and FEMA. We ask that HHS provide technical medical expertise, supplemental medical personnel, and supplies for testing and sample collection. We ask that FEMA assist with planning, coordination, logistics, and outreach to enable the site to meet its operational requirements.
Thank you for your commitment to the health of the American people and to Floridians during this crisis. We ask that you provide us with a detailed description of the federal government’s support for Community Based Testing Sites in Palm Beach County as soon as possible.
Thank you for your attention to this request.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.