Schatz to Ige: How will the state fund contact tracing after federal money expires?

Contact Tracing at the Hawaii Convention Center
Contact Tracing at the Hawaii Convention Center(None)
Published: Dec. 1, 2020 at 4:39 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz is calling on Gov. Ige to take full advantage of federal funds to expand COVID-19 contact tracing beyond the end of the year.

Sen. Schatz recently sent a letter to the governor asking for answers on the state’s plans to continue the contact tracing program, adding he’s encouraged by the growth of the tracing effort, but feels there is still room to improve.

“I am alarmed that there does not seem to be a plan yet for how to fully fund the contact tracing program after December 30. I urge you to maintain the expanded contact tracing program beyond the end of the year and to utilize all available resources to do so. Now is not the time to let our foot off the pedal—we must do all we can to keep the number of new cases low and protect the health of the residents of Hawaiʻi,” Sen. Schatz wrote.

He also requested an update on how the Department of Health has used some $50.2 million from the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act for contact tracing, testing, and other efforts to gain the upper hand on the virus.

In a statement, Gov. Ige responded by saying, “We share Sen. Schatz’s concerns and hope that he and Hawai’i’s Congressional delegation are working to secure additional federal funding so that we can continue the COVID-19 contact tracing program and importantly, distribute the vaccines into our community.”

The governor continued, saying there is a plan to continue contact tracing, but still wants more federal money for the state.

“While the state has developed plans to continue contact tracing and deploy vaccines after federal funds end on December 30, we implore Sen. Schatz and the delegation to help us secure more federal aid so we can manage the virus and distribute the vaccines to keep our kama’āina safe,” Gov. Ige said.

This story may be updated.

Copyright 2020 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.