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Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden recently announced that $5 million in federal funding will be distributed to 102 rural health clinics throughout Oregon to help boost their coronavirus testing capacity.

The funding was part of a $25 billion fund for increased testing that Congressional Democrats insisted on in the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, which Congress passed last month.

“The high-quality treatment and care that Oregon’s rural clinics and dedicated health care professionals provide to families across our state are more invaluable than ever as we continue to grapple with this public health emergency,” said Merkley. “It’s our responsibility to make sure these heroes have the resources and support they need to stay safe and do their jobs. I’m pleased that this funding will help provide that support, and I will continue to fight for every available resource they need to continue treating our rural communities.”

Health experts have continued to emphasize that increasing testing is an essential cornerstone to understanding and responding to the full scope of the coronavirus crisis, and to reopening communities.

“Testing is crucial to combat coronavirus, and rural clinics throughout our state are essential to perform those tests for Oregonians counting on them for care during this public health crisis,” Wyden said. “These health care superstars in every nook and cranny of Oregon must have full federal support to continue their heroic work, and I am glad these needed funds are heading their way. There’s lots more that must be done for rural Oregon during COVID-19, and I’ll keep battling to provide our state every possible federal resource.”

Merkley recently led his colleagues in pushing the Trump administration to immediately craft, release, and implement a plan that includes robust testing for the coronavirus and expanded contact tracing, and has been outspoken in laying out a vision for adequate testing and contact tracing efforts in Oregon and across the country. Throughout the crisis, Merkley has stayed in regular contact with rural and frontier health care providers, and was part of a bipartisan effort to push HHS to consider the needs of rural hospitals and hospitals with high percentages of Medicaid and Medicare patients as the agency distributed the $100 billion healthcare fund included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

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