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Alexander: People will return to work if they know those around them are being tested

Alexander: People will return to work if they know those around them are being tested
© Greg Nash

Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderSenate Health Committee chair asks Cuomo, Newsom to 'stop second guessing' FDA on vaccine efficacy The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Goldman Sachs - Two weeks out, Trump attempts to rally the base McConnell aims for unity amid growing divisions with Trump MORE (R-Tenn.) on Sunday said a “breakthrough” in coronavirus testing will be necessary to increase worker and consumer confidence enough to repair the U.S. economy.

“[I]f you take a test, and you know that you don't have COVID-19, and you know that everybody around you took a test that same day, you're going to have enough confidence to go back to work and back to school,” Alexander said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

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Alexander also cast doubt on how effective a fourth coronavirus relief package would be to those hurt by the economic fallout, compared to increased testing capability.

“There's not enough money to help everybody hurt when you shut down the government. So the only solution is test, trace, isolate, treatments, and vaccines. So the fast track on testing is the only solution to this,” he added. “So we have to reopen the economy. We have to do it carefully. We have to let people go back to work and earn a living. And I don't see us being able to appropriate much more money to help provide a counter to that.”

Alexander praised the increase in testing in the U.S., but said current levels would not be sufficient to reopen institutions like university campuses.

“That's why we need what [coronavirus response coordinator] Dr. [Deborah] Birx called, what [National Institutes of Health Director] Francis Collins is working on, a breakthrough,” Alexander said, describing a possible swab test users could send to a local laboratory,  “and they use what they call gene sequencing machines, which are already there. They can do tens of thousands of tests very quickly … Take a test, that will lower the risk that there will be COVID-19 on the campus. And you'll be safe enough to come back and bring your tuition money and your dorm rent.”