U.S. Reps. Rodney Davis and Darin LaHood said Thursday federal funding to operate the regional COVID-19 testing site in Bloomington will not end on Friday as previously planned.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services support for the drive-up site at the Interstate Center will last through the end of May, they said. The reversal will impact testing sites around the country.
"Listen, I hope we don't need this facility through the end of May, but having the additional funding to keep it running, keep it operating, gives everyone that reassurance," said LaHood.
LaHood and Davis, both Republicans who represent parts of Bloomington-Normal, said the state still has to fill out paperwork requesting the federal money, but a transition to state support will now be delayed.
The west Bloomington testing site has been underused. But LaHood and Davis said the speed of tests and efficiency of processing them is getting better.
"This is one of those days we get to talk about the federal investment and how we're working in a bipartisan fashion in Washington to ensure that a facility like this, which is a model for how we move people through, get tested, and get them treated or get them the reassurance they need that they haven't been infected," said Davis. "We have seen the evolutionary technology that has been evolving ever since the COVID fight began."
Davis said the ability now to have people self-swab has increased the amount of protective equipment available for medical facilities and use near critically ill patients, adding sites like the one in Bloomington and advice from the National Guard running the testing have improved the response.
LaHood also rebuffed criticism of a late and inadequate federal response to the pandemic.
"I look at the over three million pieces of personal protective equipment that the feds have given to the state over the last three and a half weeks. That's a substantial amount. When there is a spike as we have seen in other places around the country, I think the federal government has been there to respond accordingly," said LaHood.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker has said the burn rate for personal protective equipment far exceeds federal shipments to the state and that the government is actively bidding against the states to order needed resources from manufacturers.
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