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Tuesday morning, Jan. 19 Colorado’s elected officials Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet, together with Governor Jared Polis announced that a $181 Million FEMA award to support expanded COVID-19 testing has been authorized.

The state of Colorado was expecting the $181 million from the FEMA Public Assistance Program, intended to support Colorado’s free, quick, and easy COVID-19 testing sites across the state. But when disbursements were continually  delayed, the governor asked Hickenlooper (a former Colorado governor, used to working within the system) for his support to get the award flowing.

U.S. Senate candidate, former Gov. John Hickenlooper debates on June 16, 2020. Pool Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post

“With vaccine distribution underway, the end to this pandemic is in sight – but Coloradans need to continue to do their part by social distancing, wearing masks, and getting tested. I’m glad we’ve been able to secure funding to boost testing sites across Colorado and get over the finish line together,” said Hickenlooper.

“This is much-needed relief for our state so I am thrilled Senator Hickenlooper has hit the ground running in Washington and I look forward to working with him, Senator Bennet, and our federal delegation to ensure we are delivering results, are getting federal resources to Colorado, and are building back stronger than before the pandemic,” said Governor Polis.

“We have embarked on one of the largest public health surveillance efforts in our state’s history,” said Bennet. “This funding will help Governor Polis and our local public health agencies meet the testing needs of Coloradans as we continue to combat this virus and reopen our economy. I’ll continue working closely with Senator Hickenlooper in the Senate to help Colorado recover from this pandemic,”

Al three officials stressed that now more than ever, anyone who needs a test is encouraged to get one. While vaccines are beginning to roll out, twenty states, including Colorado, are seeing the spread of mutations of the virus that are said to be 70 percent more contagious than the original strain. This means that by March the country could see another, wide-spread surge in COVID-19 cases.