PA Congressman: Why is state not spending federal money to fight Coronavirus?

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The federal government sent hundreds of millions of dollars to Pennsylvania to fight coronavirus–so why has the state spent so little of it?

Governor Tom Wolf is deploying COVID testing strike teams and repeated his favorite line on Tuesday during a news conference.

“We’re still fighting the virus. that’s the enemy and we’re gonna continue to do everything we can to fight that virus,” Gov. Wolf insisted.

But Pa. Republican Congressman Dan Meuser isn’t so sure. He sent a letter to Gov. Wolf asking why Congress steered over $300 million to Pennsylvania in April for COVID-response, while the state has only spent $2.5 million of it thus far, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Meuser says hospitals in his district are nervous about a lack of testing capability.

“They’re not in their comfort zone. They’re not short but they could be very soon,” Meuser said.

The statewide hospital association is also anxious. According to a statement the association released, “the supply chain for testing materials has been strained throughout the response and we anticipate that strain will only get worse as community spread accelerates.”

So where is that $301 million? A health department spokeswoman says federal bookkeeping is lagging. Specifically, she says the state has actually spent $19 million and is under contract to spend an additional $97 million.

Additionally, the state plans to send $100 million to Pa. counties, bringing the total to $216 million on COVID relief spending. The rest will be used as the pandemic continues–but Meuser isn’t so sure.

“You still have to wonder why we weren’t utilizing those funds a little earlier,” Meuser said.

The health spokeswoman says it takes time and procedure to push out that much money, but it’s in play now and has began funding COVID testing strike teams.

“We hope it’s going to improve access to testing for Pennsylvanians in every part of the state,” Wolf said.

 In addition to hundreds of millions of dollars, federal officials also purchased millions more in COVID testing that they gave to states like Pennsylvania.

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