WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to bolster Rhode Island’s existing COVID-19 testing and infection prevention measures and help the state boost its vaccine distribution system, U.S. Senator Jack Reed today announced that the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) was awarded $70.4 from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to expand COVID-19 testing and vaccine distribution across the state.  Senator Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee, helped secure the funding as part of the ‘coronabus’ bill that combined a $1.4 trillion Omnibus appropriations bill to fund the federal government through September with a $900 billion emergency COVID-19 relief and rescue measure.  That spending package was passed and signed into law in December.


$60.9 million is allocated to support the state’s COVID-19 testing capacities, contact tracing and containment and mitigation efforts.  An additional $9.5 million will go towards enhancing the state’s distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.


“The Trump administration spent two months fighting its election loss and not enough on vaccine distribution.  Now, we’ve got the chance to turn that around and expand testing capacity where it should be, and ramp up a well-coordinated vaccine distribution system.  This federal funding will enhance Rhode Island’s COVID-19 response capabilities.  This is a life-saving investment.  Increased COVID-19 testing, along with social-distancing protocols and mask wearing, can help us control outbreaks and make it safer to get people back to work and return students to full time classroom learning.  These funds will boost the state’s effort to ensure there is an efficient vaccine distribution in place as more doses become available,” said Senator Reed.


Senator Reed notes there is added urgency to improve testing, contact tracing, and vaccine distribution as the country seeks to combat new and potentially more contagious variants of the virus that could cause new surges of infection before COVID-19 vaccines are widely distributed.


Currently, the Rhode Island Health Department reports it is receiving about 14,000 doses of vaccine per week.  Senator Reed says the federal government needs to increase that level significantly.


According to RIDOH’s website, the state has administered over 66,000 doses so far, with 13,145 people fully vaccinated.  The state has administered more than 2.3 million COVID-19 tests since the start of the outbreak and 109,735 people have tested positive.


Senator Reed strongly supports President Biden’s moves to ramp up vaccine production by robustly invoking the Defense Production Act to combat COVID-19 and speed up the manufacturing of critical testing and vaccine supplies.