U.S. has yet to spend billions of dollars allocated for COVID-19 testing

Billions of dollars HHS designated to boost national COVID-19 testing have yet to be spent months after Congress allocated $25 billion for federal agencies and states, The Wall Street Journal reported. 

Congress allocated the money in April and, according to HHS data, only about 10 percent to 15 percent of it has been spent. 

Of the $25 billion, $10.25 billion was sent to states and U.S. territories in May to expand testing and develop contact tracing programs. Only $121 million of that has been spent as of Aug. 14, according to the Journal

The money also included $2 billion to pay for testing uninsured individuals, and only $235.5 million of that has been spent. Another $5.7 billion was to be sent to various government agencies involved in testing, including the CDC and FDA, but just $1.62 billion has been given to them so far, the Journal reported. 

The reasons for the lack of spending vary. Some states are still figuring out which testing services they think will be the most effective. It can also take time to figure out contracts for testing services. 

In July, overwhelming demand for diagnostic tests as cases spiked in the South and West caused lab backlogs and weekslong delays for test results, hindering the country's containment efforts, the Journal reported. 

Brett Giroir, MD, the HHS' assistant secretary for health, told the Journal the agency is focused on expanding testing and sending the right types of tests to the right types of settings. 

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