Bipartisan Experts Agree That Comprehensive Testing, Tracing, and Targeted Containment Strategy Is Key to Reopening Country

May 13, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (May 13, 2020)—Today, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, chaired by Rep. James E. Clyburn, held a briefing with a bipartisan group of experts on the requirements for safely reopening our nation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Today’s briefing made clear that a coordinated and comprehensive testing, tracing, and supported isolation plan is needed to reopen the country—and that the Trump Administration needs to do more to lead the way.

At the briefing, bipartisan experts provided recommendations to guide federal and state efforts to safely reopen the country:

  • Reopening safely depends on testing, but we have not met goals.  Experts agreed that to safely reopen our country, we need to significantly scale up testing—but we are far behind where we should be. 

    Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb informed Members that the country’s ability to reopen will “turn on testing.”

    Dr. Ashish Jha of Harvard described testing as “critical” and “the cornerstone of controlling every single disease outbreak” but said we are still not testing enough people.

    Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Mark McClellan warned that America may not reach testing levels recommended by Harvard until September, commenting that more widescale testing is “a ways off,” and that, “it would be great if we had more testing capacity months ago.”
  • We need stronger federal leadership.  Briefers stated that while states play a critical role, federal coordination and support is essential to getting the resources necessary to reopen safely.

    Dr. Jha stated, “This is why we have a federal government.  The federal government can play an effective and important role in coordinating, in obtaining supplies, in getting states the help they need and so that states can focus on the job that they are really good at, which is identifying their own individual needs.” 

    Dr. Tom Inglesby of Johns Hopkins noted that businesses and the public are looking to the CDC to provide guidance on how to reopen safely.
  • Testing must be distributed to vulnerable communities.  Expert panelists underscored the importance of a coronavirus response that serves all communities. 

    In his opening remarks, Chairman Clyburn emphasized the Select Subcommittee’s role in ensuring that the federal government’s  response to the coronavirus crisis is “effective, efficient, and equitable.”
  • Economic damage was a direct result of the lack of testing.  Experts informed Members of the Select Subcommittee that the economic shutdown would not have been necessary if early testing had been available to identify disease outbreaks when they began. 

    Dr. Jha said, “Every expert on the left, right, and center agrees that we had to shut down the economy because the outbreak got too big.  The outbreak got too big because we didn’t have a testing infrastructure that allowed us to put our arms around the outbreak.  And so testing was the fundamental failure that forced our country to shut down.”
116th Congress