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House Lawmakers Want HHS to Provide Info on National Strategy for COVID-19 Contact Tracing Efforts

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Three House lawmakers asked Alex Azar, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, to provide information on Trump administration’s comprehensive plan to strengthen the country’s contact tracing efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lack of a national strategy “jeopardizes the success of ongoing COVID-19 response efforts” and “raises potential privacy concerns as technology is increasingly used in contact tracing without federal coordination and oversight,” the lawmakers wrote in a Thursday letter to Azar.

The correspondence was signed by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), chair of the House panel’s health subcommittee, and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), chair of the House panel’s subcommittee on oversight and investigations.

They also asked the HHS secretary to respond to several questions by May 14. The lawmakers, for instance, want to know who is overseeing COVID-19 contact tracing and other surveillance efforts on a national level and how HHS coordinates with other federal agencies and state, local, tribal and territorial agencies to broaden the contact tracing capacity.