Dover Post: Carper, Coons join call for VA to develop COVID-19 testing strategy nationwide

Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons, both D-Delaware, joined Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, and 16 of their Senate colleagues in calling on the Department of Veterans Affairs to ramp up coronavirus disease 2019 testing at VA facilities nationwide and establish a framework for a large-scale strategy for national testing.

“In support of a nationwide testing strategy, VA can be a great asset in achieving the kind of testing scale-up necessary to safely open the economy successfully and stave off or address a second wave,” wrote Bennet and the senators in the letter sent to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “As the largest integrated health care system in the country, overseeing more than 1,200 health care facilities across the United States, the Veterans Health Administration is well-positioned to help our nation amplify our testing strategy.”

A proactive national strategy by the VA would, for example, expand, centralize and coordinate the ordering and distribution of critical supplies and testing kits to all VA facilities nationwide. This expansion would not only increase VA capacity to provide relief for the veteran community, it would also free up resources at non-VA hospitals to focus on caring for civilians.

In the letter, the senators outline recommendations for producing a testing strategy, including making testing kits available at VA facilities, including non-hospitals; testing both symptomatic and asymptomatic veterans; providing more detailed testing data on VA’s website; and developing a plan to provide a sufficient workforce to carry out the strategy, as well as equipping them with proper supplies and equipment, including personal protective equipment.