Delaware’s Division of Public Health has received a $67 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to expand testing capacity for COVID-19 and establish an epidemiological surveillance system.
The funding will be used to hire staff for enhanced laboratory testing, improving electronic data exchanges at the public health lab, and improving the surveillance and reporting of electronic health data. The grant will assist in developing a COVID-19 surveillance network to test symptomatic and asymptomatic people, with additional testing for vulnerable populations. Delaware and other states that have received this funding must accelerate efforts to conduct robust contact tracing, and then identify and isolate new cases of COVID-19.
The CDC has given the state 30 months to use the funds.
“Widespread community testing for COVID-19 and contact tracing are keys to reopening Delaware’s economy safely while protecting our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Gov. John Carney in a press release. “These additional federal resources will be a real help in that effort.”
Carney said Delawareans should stay vigilant. ”Keep your distance from others. Wear a face covering in public settings, including on the Boardwalk. Wash or sanitize your hands frequently. We need to get this right, and personal behavior matters. Now’s not the time to let up.”
Dr. Kara Odom Walker, secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services, said, “The enhanced funding from the CDC will allow us to expand community testing in Delaware and to rapidly build our contact tracing program, especially among vulnerable populations. As we test more widely, we will find more positive cases in our state, and those individuals will need to be isolated.”
With the grant, Delaware Division of Public Health will purchase testing and laboratory supplies such as specimen collection kits, lab reagents, and test kits for molecular and serology testing; implement new and advanced technologies to improve surveillance and reporting of electronic health data; and coordinate and engage with partners through training, outreach, workshops, communication technologies, and community testing events.
U.S. Sen. Tom Carper said, “This funding, made possible by the CARES Act that Congress passed in March, will help Delaware track and trace this virus so we can keep moving in the right direction to get through this pandemic.”