Rep. Herrera Beutler, Vancouver Mayor McEnerny-Ogle propose back-to-work demonstration project in Southwest Washington

Officials recommend utilizing Vancouver lab with COVID-testing capabilities and home construction sector to map out a successful strategy to responsibly reopen the economy

VANCOUVER – On Tuesday, Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler and Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle sent a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee requesting the implementation of a demonstration project to begin re-opening the economy by conducting rapid saliva tests on residential construction industry workers by use of Vancouver’s Molecular Testing Labs (MTL).

Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle
Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle

In the letter to Gov. Inslee, Herrera Beutler and McEnerny-Ogle requested consideration of a demonstration project using rapid saliva tests on the residential construction industry, which has the potential to jumpstart efforts to reopen the economy and get citizens back to work. Herrera Beutler and McEnerny-Ogle also stressed that if this project is successful, it could provide a blueprint for reopening other segments of the economy.

Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler
Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler

Herrera Beutler has been providing assistance to Vancouver-based MTL as it has sought the supplies and FDA approval to ramp up its COVID testing capabilities.  MTL currently has the capacity to run tests for COVID-19 and reports that it is days away from developing saliva tests similar to those developed by Rutgers University in New Jersey approved by the FDA last week.

The full text of the letter follows and is available here.

Dear Governor Inslee,  

We are writing to call your attention to potentially life-saving and job-preserving work being conducted in Clark County.

Businesses throughout the state and nation desperately need to reopen soon to avoid permanent closure, and all of us want to get back to our normal lives as soon as possible.  However, we also recognize the difficulty in safeguarding health and restoring public confidence to return to offices, restaurants, retail, and other service industries without widespread, easily-available testing that allows health authorities to quickly detect and isolate COVID-19 cases.  

Molecular Testing Labs in Vancouver reports to us that it already has the capacity to run tests for COVID-19 using the nasopharyngeal and oral pharyngeal tests and is days away from developing saliva tests similar to the tests developed at Rutgers University in New Jersey approved by the FDA last week.  Test samples can be collected by patients with minimal contact from health care professionals.  The process is much simpler and requires far less use of personal protection equipment than current test methods, and results can be obtained in 24-48 hours.  

These tests have the potential to jumpstart our efforts to safely reopen our economy and return our citizens to their regular lives.  Should they gain FDA approval in the coming days, we encourage you to strongly consider a demonstration project using this technology and strict social distancing guidelines to re-authorize work in a segment of the economy in Southwest Washington.  The residential construction industry appears to be a good candidate for this sort of approach.  Assuming this project is successful, it could be quickly rolled out to other segments of the economy.  

These have been difficult times for all of us, but we are hopeful that solutions are close to hand.  We appreciate your hard work and dedication on behalf of the people we serve and stand ready to work with you to return our state to its normal condition.


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