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U.S. House of Representatives Introduces Contact Tracing Resolution and Grant Appropriation

On May 1, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced House Resolution 6666, the COVID-19 Testing, Reaching, And Contacting Everyone (“TRACE”) Act. The resolution, sponsored by Bobby Rush (D-IL), would authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to award grants to eligible entities to conduct diagnostic testing for COVID-19 to trace and monitor the contacts of infected individuals and to support the quarantine and testing of such contacts. The resolution contemplates such activities occurring at mobile health units and, as necessary, at individuals’ residences.  A grant recipient may use the grant funds: (1) to hire, train, compensate, and pay expenses of individuals; and (2) to purchase personal protective equipment (“PPE”) in support of such contact tracing and other activity. Priority is given to applicants proposing to: (1) conduct activities in “hot spots and medically underserved communities”; and (2) hiring residents of the area or community where the activities will occur.

In addition, the resolution outlines that Federal privacy requirements must be complied with, and that no provisions of the Resolution and actions taken under those provisions may supersede any Federal privacy or confidentiality requirements under Federal legislation, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) and other laws.

The resolution authorizes appropriations of $100,000,000,000 for fiscal year 2020; and such sums as may be necessary for each of fiscal year 2021 and any subsequent fiscal year during which the emergency period continues.  The resolution has been introduced and referred to the House Committee and Energy and Commerce, where it currently awaits further action.