Funds announced for COVID-19 testing

Staff Writer
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., last Friday released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), awarded $736,276 to four HRSA-funded community health centers to expand COVID-19 testing:

“In rural states like Oklahoma, community health centers continue to be on the front lines of testing and treating patients for COVID-19. Federally-funded health centers throughout the country are currently providing more than 100,000 COVID-19 tests in their local communities,” Lucas said. “Testing capacity, resources, and supplies are critical to continue our fight, and I applaud the recent funding announcement to assist these centers with testing expansion and resources during these challenging times. By providing crucial health care delivery to the most vulnerable citizens, community health centers continue to play a vital role during this pandemic to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on our state.”

Health centers in Lucas’s district that received funds included:

Fairfax Medical Facilities, Fairfax- $196,069;

Great Salt Plains Health Center, Cherokee- $258,679;

Panhandle Counseling and Health Center, Guymon- $141,739;

and Shortgrass Community Health Center, Hollis- $139,789.

The funding for the four health centers is part of the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, signed into law by President Trump on April 24. The legislation provides funding for small businesses and individuals financially affected by COVID-19, additional funding for hospitals and healthcare providers, and increased testing capabilities to help track the spread and impact of the coronavirus.

HRSA-funded health centers will use this funding to expand the range of testing and testing-related activities to best address the needs of their local communities, including the purchase of personal protective equipment; training for staff, outreach, procurement and administration of tests; laboratory services; notifying identified contacts of infected health center patients of their exposure to COVID-19; and the expansion of walk-up or drive-up testing capabilities.

Nearly 88 percent of the nation’s HRSA-funded health centers report testing patients, with more than 65 percent offering walk-up or drive-up testing. U.S. health centers are currently providing more than 100,000 weekly COVID-19 tests in their local communities.