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Remarks by Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation At a Press Availability with Maryland Governor Larry Hogan Becton Dickinson Development Center; Sparks Glencoe, Maryland

As Delivered Thursday, September 10, 2020

Thank you, Governor Hogan. Thank you for your leadership, and the speed and efficiency with which you brought together Republican and Democratic governors to craft a path forward for America to make Covid-19 something we can manage through, and to support vulnerable communities here in Maryland and all around the nation. Thank you for your leadership.

We were glad to partner with you in this effort, because we know, and have known for some time, that testing is really the only way out. Complete shutdowns of the U.S. economy here in Maryland, or anywhere else in the nation, are simply not viable or affordable to the people who suffer the most when that takes place – essential workers and working families. And neither is it possible for America to tolerate the loss of lives – in hospitals, nursing homes, and in particular minority communities around the nation – from a disease that is not being effectively managed.

Stepping in to solve the problem by creating this interstate testing compact, you Governor Hogan, and your colleagues from nine other states, are now acquiring 5 million rapid screening tests to bring that tool to the front lines of this fight.

These tests will allow people to get quick results within minutes, and will do so at a sufficient sensitivity to ensure we can pinpoint those people who are positive and take them out of the chain of transmission much more quickly and much more effectively, and in a much more comprehensive way than America has been able to do to this point.

In order to support the broad and ubiquitous use of this type of test, The Rockefeller Foundation, Duke University, Arizona State, and a number of partners – including the states the governor mentioned – have released a new set of recommendations yesterday on how to use rapid screening tests in order to conduct screening activities in communities, in schools, in nursing homes, and in essential facilities around the nation.

Right now we’re heading into a flu season, and the country is not yet doing 25 million tests a month. With this announcement today, with Governor Hogan’s leadership, and with the new compact, we hope to get America to between 70 million and 200 million tests a month, absolutely as soon as possible.

Critical to doing so is real public-private partnership. And I want to thank our hosts at Becton Dickinson, who have clearly stepped into the fight, and are making a tremendous difference with the introduction of this new test, which will allow teachers, students, vulnerable families, and those who are elderly around the nation – and certainly in the state of Maryland – to have more confidence about their safety as they go about their daily activities.

And I want to note that the interstate compact that has been launched is also collaborating closely, as best we all can, with the Department of Health and Human Services. And we recognize that this is not a political issue. It is an issue to help America get back on its feet, get our economy back, and get our schools operating again.

So thank you for your leadership. Thank you for the Becton Dickinson team for hosting us. And we look forward to scaling this effort up as quickly and as significantly as we can. Thank you very much.


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