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Coronavirus: Garamendi, Phillips call upon congressional leaders to consider national contract tracing program

Coronavirus: Garamendi, Phillips call upon congressional leaders to consider national contract tracing program

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Solano; joined Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., to push for a national coronavirus contract tracing program Tuesday.

Both Garamendi and Phillips had recently introduced bills in the House of Representatives to call upon national service programs such as the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps to boost contract tracing and testing for the virus. Garamendi’s legislation is the Undertaking National Initiatives to Tackle Epidemic (UNITE) Act, and Phillips’ bill is the Utilizing and Supporting Evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers Act. A companion piece to the UNITE Act was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Edward Markey, D-Mass.; and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.

Garamendi and Phillips recently wrote a letter to congressional leaders — including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — urging them to include their legislation in any future bicameral legislation.

“The coronavirus pandemic has put an unprecedented strain on our society, and our nation requires a significant scaling of testing and contact tracing in order to flatten the curve and lift stay-at-home orders,” Garamendi said in a statement. “Our legislation empowers America’s service organizations to perform testing and contact tracing across the country and deliver the aid and support our communities require during the pandemic. As Co-Chair of the Congressional Peace Corps Caucus, and as a returned Peace Corps volunteer, I understand how capable America’s service organizations are to expand our nation’s testing and contact tracing to meet the needs of our country’s pandemic response…I strongly urge House and Senate leadership to include these critical pieces of legislation in any additional bicameral legislation.”

In another statement, Phillips said America “must have a whole-of-government response to the COVID-19 pandemic that delivers relief to understaffed frontline workers.”

“Our legislation enables national service organizations to provide Americans the opportunity to give back to their communities by supporting critical work such as contact tracing and supply chain management,” he said. “The American spirit of activism and hard work is alive and well especially during this challenging time, and I call on my colleagues in the House and the Senate to take up these important pieces of legislation immediately.”