The Administration will work with Congress to secure the necessary funding to improve our data collection, sequencing, and wastewater surveillance capabilities to immediately identify and detect new and emerging variants; and strengthen pandemic preparedness.
As we work to keep ourselves protected against COVID-19, America must remain prepared for any new variant that may come our way. To do so, the Administration has developed a comprehensive plan for how we monitor this virus to stay ahead of it, adapt our tools swiftly to combat a new variant, and deploy emergency resources to help communities.
Before January 2021, the federal government had insufficient data and sequencing capabilities and was ill-equipped to respond to new variants. Electronic case reporting was in place for only a handful of states in 2020 and the country could sequence only 3,000 viral isolates per week. America had no plan for responding to a new variant or standing up comprehensive efforts to respond to a surge in COVID-19 cases.
The Administration has enhanced our collection, production, and analysis of data, and expanded electronic case reporting to all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and thousands of health care facilities. The CDC now tracks a range of key COVID-19 response metrics including cases, tests, vaccinations, and hospital admissions in real-time. Additionally, the CDC launched – and is continually enhancing – the National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS) to track the presence of SARS-COV-2 in wastewater samples collected across the country. And America has established a world-class sequencing operation, sequencing up to 90,000 isolates a week. The CDC’s sequencing efforts can now reliably detect variants that account for as little as 0.1% of all COVID-19 cases circulating in the United States. And when new variants are identified, the federal government has a network of researchers – federal, academic, and commercial – who are able to study the sequence and assess mutations rapidly, allowing the government to respond quickly to concerning variants.
The Administration has also successfully built a robust emergency response infrastructure. Our surge response – led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and HHS – developed capabilities to stand up over 100 federal mass vaccination sites and federal surge testing sites; distribute millions of critical supplies; and deploy thousands of federal clinical and non-clinical personnel to support states, Tribes, and territories. Since July 2021, the federal government has deployed over 4,000 military and non-military personnel including doctors, nurses, and paramedics; sent over 3,400 ventilators, ambulances, and other critical supplies; and shipped over 115 million pieces of PPE. And over the last year, FEMA has invested $300 million in state hospital preparedness to expand hospital capacity in 38 states.
Moving forward, the Administration will maintain our proven data, sequencing, variant response, and surge response capabilities. The CDC will continue to improve COVID-19 data collection, reporting, and analysis so America is better informed and ready to respond to new variants. And if new variants emerge, the federal government will leverage established playbooks to assess a new variant’s impact on our vaccines, treatments, and tests, and rapidly deploy the tools, personnel, and resources Americans need. America will also retain a significant stockpile of tools to combat COVID-19 that remain ready for deployment.
Source – The White house