April 28, 2020

New Mexico Delegation Announces Over $6 Million in CARES Act Funding for Testing and Contact Tracing

Funding will be used to expand COVID-19 testing capacity and contact tracing, which helps limit disease spread by alerting those who have come into contact with infected individuals

WASHINGTONU.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), along with U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Deb Haaland (D-N.M.)and Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.), announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is awarding New Mexico $6,638,183 through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing efforts.

Coordinated contact tracing, coupled with expanded testing capacity, will allow public health officials to isolate those who might be infectious and slow the spread of coronavirus. These measures are two critical public health activities that health experts say must be in place in order to safely reopen the state’s economy. Contact tracing is an important disease control measure that is frequently used by local and state health agencies to identify those who may have come in contact with an infected patient during the timeframe that the patient may have been infectious. 

New Mexico has been aggressively expanded testing capacity and now has 64 test sites in all 33 counties and was one of the first in the nation to begin testing asymptomatic essential workers. The state has also mobilized a team of nearly 100 public health workers who have spoken to more than 150,000 people as part of the state’s contact tracing efforts to stem the spread of the disease.

These federal resources will help the state continue to make progress towards their efforts to contain this deadly disease. Congress also passed legislation this week that includes an additional $25 billion to increase national capacity for testing and contact tracing, with $11 billion dedicated specifically for future funding to states. 

“We cannot rebuild our economy or return to normal life safely without drastically expanded testing and contact tracing across the country,” said Udall. “Thanks to our state leadership, New Mexico has been out in front on testing, and this $6 million in funding in addition to resources included in the recently passed interim COVID-19 relief agreement will help our state’s public health department operate at the needed capacity. Although I am glad that Congress is providing these resources, the lack of organization, coordination, and execution from the Trump administration is unacceptable. Without transparent, extensive coordination between states and the federal government, we will be unable to open our schools, economy and society safely and successfully. Moving forward, I will continue to push for the resources needed by our dedicated and brave health professionals who are on the front lines of this crisis.”

“National recovery efforts rely heavily on significantly ramping up testing to track and effectively contain the spread of the coronavirus,” said Heinrich. “Until scientists develop scientifically-validated therapies and vaccines, testing is the only tool we have to provide businesses and consumers with the certainty and confidence to reopen the economy. I welcome this federal funding and am grateful for all of the hardworking New Mexicans who have made our state one of the earliest and most aggressive states in the nation to focus on scaling up our testing apparatus. I will keep doing everything in my power to fight for a broader public health response that’s rooted in science, and a strong long-term economic recovery in the aftermath of the pandemic.”

“Public health experts have been clear from the outset that expanded testing is critical to combatting this pandemic. That is why earlier this week Congress took an important step forward in providing an additional $25 billion for testing. This $6 million in funding will support critical efforts by our state and our public health department,” said Luján. “I will continue to work with our delegation to ensure that our state receives the necessary support and resources from the federal government. As we get through this crisis together, we must all do our part to stop the spread of this virus.”

“Testing and tracking where the virus exists in our communities is key to controlling this pandemic, so that our elders stay healthy and workers can return to financial security of a regular paycheck, but capacity remains an issue for many states, including New Mexico. By providing this funding in the CARES Act, we are doing our part to help our health care workers and organizations keep people healthy,” said Haaland.

“Testing is crucial to support our frontline workers and reopen New Mexico’s economy. In the face of unprecedented challenges, frontline healthcare workers have stepped up to serve with limited resources. Meanwhile, business owners are planning innovative, responsible, and data-driven ways to gradually reopen and bring people back to work. This $6 million in funding will expand the state’s testing and tracking capabilities is essential to supporting those efforts. I will be working alongside our public health officials to make sure this funding reaches central and southern New Mexico,” said Torres Small.

The $6,638,183 awarded to New Mexico by the CDC will be used for:

-Enhancing the ability to effectively identify infected individuals, and conduct contact tracing to alert and isolate other possibly infected individuals which helps stop the spread of disease.
-Improving morbidity and mortality surveillance, which will help public health experts capture the full scope of COVID related deaths.
-Enhancing testing capacity to detect infected individuals.   
-Controlling COVID-19 in high-risk settings and protect vulnerable or high-risk populations, including nursing homes.