New tests offer Coronavirus hope; Senate passes House Families First Coronavirus bill.

Update 3/18/20: Many of you called your senators to urge them to pass the House’s Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and they did today.

Finally: a reason to hope that the Coronavirus pandemic can be managed. On March 13, the FDA gave emergency approval to Roche pharmaceutical company for a new test[1] which can be read by machines that are already in place in over 100 labs. Each machine can test between 1,500 to 4,000 people a day. Roche said that 400,000 tests were available, and that it can produce 1.5 million a month[2]. We are waiting for the CDC to organize distribution of this test.

High volume testing, quickly isolating sick or suspected patients, and introducing policies that limit public gatherings or requiring work at home have proved effective in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Korea.[3]” Update: On 3/18, the Senate passed the U.S. House Families First Coronavirus Response Act. (Read a bill summary here.) 
The bill will: Guarantee sick leave for workers and their families affected by the coronavirus, Bolster food aid for needy families and seniors, Inject funds into state unemployment coffers and Guarantee free testing for people suspected of being infected.

The availability of this new test, paired with epidemiologists’ advice,* means we can begin to control the pandemic in the U.S. (*Avoid large groups, work from home when possible, wash hands regularly, and maintain a social distance of 6 feet as much as you can. Staying home and avoiding unnecessary contacts also helps.)

We have more work to do.
We must remove the financial barriers that make many afraid to get tested and/or report symptoms. The insured face deductibles and copays for office visits and hospitalization that may be too much for many, and 28 million are uninsured. Immigrants who are in the naturalization waiting period have been told that if they use any government aid, they will be denied citizenship. Missing work for a quarantine period of two weeks or longer creates a financial hardship for many, and more than 10 days of paid sick leave is needed.
In last night’s Democratic Presidential Debate, both Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden urged immediate universal free coronavirus health care as well as direct financial aid to individuals and businesses small and large. Introducing these ideas into the national discourse is progress. Let’s urge our leaders to get these key steps done now to help Americans.
Next step: True universal health care for Colorado and the U.S.
Thank you,
Ivan J. Miller, Ph.D., Executive DirectorColorado Foundation for Universal Health Care (CO4UHC)

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