Rep. Payne, Jr. Requests Continued FEMA Support for State Testing Facilities

May 19, 2020
Press Release

Media Contact:  Patrick Wright   --  Patrick.Wright@mail.house.gov

Washington, D.C. — Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. wants the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to continue federal support of two New Jersey testing sites and help the state conduct 25,000 coronavirus tests per day.      

Rep. Payne, Jr. wrote a letter to Peter Gaynor, FEMA Administrator, supported by the entire New Jersey Congressional delegation that said, “New Jersey has been on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic since it began affecting our country.”  It stated that “the Federal government’s disaster response approach of “locally executed, state managed, and Federally supported” must be honored” to continue federal support for the testing locations.  The two FEMA sites are located in Monmouth and Bergen Counties.     

“Federal support is critical to decrease the number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey,” said Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr.  “We are seeing signs that social distancing is working.  When we increase testing, we will be able to identify the spread of the disease and limit the amount of new cases in the state.  We need to see this fight to the finish and federal funding of those sites will allow us to do that.” 

The other signees to the letter were U.S. Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker as well as Reps. Andrew Kim, Donald Norcross, Albio Sires, Frank Pallone, Jr., Bonnie Watson-Coleman, Mikie Sherrill, Tom Malinowski, Bill Pascrell, Josh Gottheimer, Jeff Van Drew, and Chris Smith.

Rep. Payne, Jr. has been working diligently to fight for constituents and all Americans during the coronavirus global pandemic.  He introduced a bill to get hazard pay for the nation’s federal frontline workers, such as TSA agents, daycare workers, and veteran health care workers.  He co-wrote a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve a ventilator design that could help supply local hospitals in New Jersey and the rest of the country that the FDA approved a week later.  As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response & Recovery of the House Committee on Homeland Security, he has been in constant contact with FEMA officials to support them in their efforts to aid and protect the American people.       

In addition, he has voted to approve five coronavirus-related aid bills in the House to help the nation survive this public health crisis.  The most recent legislation, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (H.R. 6800) was a $3 trillion emergency stimulus package that would provide roughly $1 trillion to state and local governments to help them pay coronavirus-related costs, another $1,200 payment to low and middle-income Americans with a maximum of $6,000 per family, $200 billion in hazard pay to essential workers, and an additional $75 billion to improve the country’s coronavirus testing and contact tracing. 

The first law, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 6074), provided $8.3 billion to fund medical efforts.  The second one, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), allowed Americans to get free coronavirus testing and workers to get mandatory paid sick leave.  The third one, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (H.R. 748) authorized more than $2 trillion to Americans in coronavirus aid, including direct payments to low and middle-income workers, increased unemployment benefits, $349 billion to small businesses through grants and interest-free loans, $150 billion to state and local governments to help them handle coronavirus-related expenses, and $200 billion to support America’s hospitals and health care workers.

The fourth bill, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (H.R. 266), allocated $310 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program to allow small businesses to pay their employees, $75 billion to health care facilities for protective equipment and care, and $25 billion to enhance the country’s coronavirus testing capability.   

The full letter is below:

 

The Honorable Peter T. Gaynor

Administrator

Federal Emergency Management Agency

500 C Street, SW, Room 8

Washington, D.C. 20024

 

Administrator Gaynor:

We write in support of the state of New Jersey’s May 12, 2020, request for continued Federal support of its two Community-Based Testing Sites (CBTS) and expanding testing capacity to at least 750 tests per day per site.  New Jersey currently has more than 140,000 confirmed cases and nearly 10,000 deaths and leads the nation in new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.[1],[2]   Continued testing support from the Federal government is necessary for the state to be able to identify and isolate continued outbreaks.

New Jersey has been on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic since it began affecting our country.  Newark Liberty International Airport was one of the first airports to start screening international travelers for COVID-19 and New Jersey was one of the first states to issue a stay at home order and enforce social distancing rules to flatten the curve. [3],[4]  New Jersey has put forward an aggressive testing plan to meet the state’s current needs.  However, to meet New Jersey’s goal of testing 25,000 per day by the end of June, up from the current 12,000 tests a day, continued Federal support will be vital.[5]  With U.S. deaths approaching 100,000, the Federal government’s disaster response approach of “locally executed, state managed, and Federally supported” must be honored now as New Jersey needs the Federal government’s continued support for these testing sites.

A swift approval will allow New Jersey to accurately plan its testing strategy based on the resources that will be available.  Thank you for your continued support for the people of New Jersey and we look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

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