Rush Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Fund $100 Billion Coronavirus Testing and Contact Tracing Effort

May 1, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush introduced H.R. 6666, the COVID-19 Testing, Reaching and Contacting Everyone (TRACE) Act.  This bipartisan bill would establish a grant program run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to fully mobilize coronavirus testing and contact tracing efforts.  Grantees would include Community Health Centers, School Based Health Centers, academic medical centers, non-profits, and other entities who would hire and train individuals to operate mobile testing units, as well as outreach in hot spots and medically underserved areas.

“Reopening our economy and getting back to normal will be all but impossible if we do not step up our testing efforts and implement robust and widespread contact tracing,” said Rep. Rush.  “Until we have a vaccine to defeat this dreaded disease, contact tracing in order to understand the full breadth and depth of the spread of this virus is the only way we will be able to get out from under this.

“The COVID-19 TRACE Act will allow us to do this by creating a $100 billion dollar grant program for local organizations to hire, train, and pay individuals and to purchase supplies to run mobile testing units and door-to-door outreach as is safe and necessary, with special preference being given to those operating in hot spots and medically underserved communities, as well as those entities who commit to hiring from these neighborhoods.

“I am immensely proud to see this bill receive bipartisan support and I hope to see the COVID-19 TRACE Act swiftly adopted by the House as a stand-alone bill or as part of a larger coronavirus response package.”

Rep. Rush answers frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 TRACE Act:

What is the COVID-19 TRACE ACT?

  • The COVID-19 Testing, Reaching and Contacting Everyone Act is a comprehensive, bipartisan bill that would establish a 100 BILLION dollar grant program for local organizations to hire, train, and pay individuals to run mobile testing units and conduct door-to-door outreach, with special preference being given to those operating in hot spots and medically underserved communities.
  • The bill has been officially endorsed by the American Diabetes Association and EverThrive Illinois.

What is Contact Tracing?

  • Contact tracing is not a new concept and is used all over the world to combat infectious diseases such Ebola and tuberculosis.  Because coronavirus is highly contagious, contact tracing helps us understand who has the virus, and who they might have come into contact with, so we can better protect those potential patients as well.
  • According to the CDC, contact tracing is a core disease control measure and a key strategy for preventing further spread of COVID-19.
  • Given that many people with coronavirus are asymptomatic, contact tracing becomes even more important if we are serious about getting back to work and back to normal. 
  • Moreover, we are currently witnessing more frequent testing in white, affluent communities but more COVID-19 cases and deaths in low-income, minority communities.  In Illinois, even though black residents are dying of COVID-19 at more than three times the rate of the state’s white population, white residents are still tested nearly twice as often.  That is why we need to ramp up testing and contact tracing in these communities and other medically underserves communities as well.

Who would qualify for grants?

  • Federally Qualified Health Centers;
  • School-based Health Clinics;
  • Disproportionate-Share Hospitals;
  • academic medical centers;
  • non-profits, including faith-based organizations;
  • high schools and universities; and
  • Any other entity deemed eligible by the CDC.

Does the COVID-19 TRACE Act require testing?

  • No. The COVID-19 TRACE is about providing testing to those who want/need it. Not everyone has the ability to visit drive-thru testing sites, and many others are unable to leave their homes to get tested for any number of reasons.  This bill would allow the testers to come to you through mobile testing units and door-to-door outreach, as is safe and necessary, from members of your own community.  However, if you don’t want to be tested for coronavirus, you won’t don’t have to be — but you should!  

If I test positive for coronavirus, will I be forced to quarantine?

  • Absolutely not.  Again, these tests would be completely voluntary.  The bill does not force you or your loved ones to do anything at all.  With that being said, if you or a loved one does has the coronavirus, it is advised that you do self-quarantine and maintain social distance from others.  If you are experiencing symptoms, you should contact your primary care physician immediately and look into getting tested.

I saw online that the bill allows the government to enter my home and remove my children if we test positive for the virus.  Is that true?

  • I’ve seen these alarming posts as well, but I can assure you that they are completely false.  This bill does not authorize anyone to enter your home, for whatever reason, without your permission, nor does it allow the government to remove anyone from your home because of the coronavirus.  Again, this bill is about providing access to testing and outreach for medically underserved communities who want/need to get tested, but currently their needs aren’t being met.  This bill is about helping our country safely reopen the economy so we can get back to normal!