Rockefeller doubles commitment to COVID-19 relief

Rockefeller doubles commitment to COVID-19 relief

In conjunction with the release of an updated testing and tracing strategy, the Rockefeller Foundation has announced a $50 million commitment in support of COVID-19 relief and response efforts in the United States and an expansion of support for regions of the world where the need is greatest.

The funding, which doubles to $100 million the foundation's commitment to the global coronavirus response, will support measures detailed in its National Covid-19 Testing & Tracing Action Plan (51 pages, PDF), a follow-up to a report released in April. Developed with support from a bipartisan team of scientists, industry experts, technologists, and economists, the updated plan offers recommendations in four critical areas: resolving diagnostic testing shortages and introducing widespread screening testing; establishing a contract tracing system and increasing the use and speed of, public trust in, and support services for contact tracing and self-isolation; strengthening data infrastructure and use of data to drive testing and tracing performance; and coordinating and focusing public communications on the value of personal safety measures, testing, and contact tracing.

As part of the effort, the reports' authors argue, policy makers, foundations, and the private sector must ensure that COVID testing is free and available to all Americans; address the current crisis in lab-based diagnostic testing via the Defense Production Act if necessary; create and implement protocols for testing asymptomatic individuals in schools, workplaces, and nursing homes; support the development of accurate, affordable, and rapid antigen tests; create a national COVID-19 Communications Coalition that includes nonprofits, community organizers, faith leaders, and government leadership at the federal, state and city levels; and make self-isolation and quarantining more practical by providing public support for lost wages and other necessities. 

The plan calls for at least $75 billion to be made available in the next federal stimulus bill for testing, which, according to the foundation, needs to be ramped up to at least five million diagnostic tests and twenty-five million point-of-care screening tests a week within three months. The report also calls on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to lead efforts to develop screening test protocols so organizations know how to protect against outbreaks and keep the economy functioning.

"America faces an impending disaster," said Rockefeller Foundation president Rajiv J. Shah. "We need to scale the nationwide screening test strategy to keep essential institutions and parts of the economy open and functional until there is a vaccine or a more effective treatment. This includes massively increasing availability of fast, inexpensive screening tests to identify asymptomatic Americans who carry the virus. Today, we are conducting too few of these types of tests. The Rockefeller Foundation stands ready to work with public, private, and nonprofit institutions to implement these protocols by funding pilot projects throughout the country."

"COVID-19 national testing & tracing action plan." Rockefeller Foundation report 07/16/2020. "The Rockefeller Foundation launches new testing strategy to keep U.S. economy open." Rockefeller Foundation press release 07/16/2020. "COVID-19 national testing & tracing action plan summary." Rockefeller Foundation report summary 07/16/2020.