You can already see the battle lines emerging over the post-crisis coronavirus response.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, seeks an international investigation into China’s role in downplaying the early spread of the virus, a cover-up with lethal results for the rest of the world. It’s fair game, but surely the senator knows his political party takes a skeptical view of justice wielded at an international level.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi formed a committee to investigate the federal response to the coronavirus. A House inquiry, too, is fair game in order to avoid past missteps, but surely Pelosi knows that a partisan circus is likely.

The time for investigations will come, but it might be best to get the virus under control first. This week, more than 8,000 American deaths were attributed to COVID-19, double the number from all of March.

To this end, Missouri’s other senator, Republican Roy Blunt, raises an issue of more pressing concern for Americans who are eager to get back to some form of normalcy.

As chairman of the Health Appropriations Committee, Blunt is urging Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to confirm that two types of COVID-19 tests will be free to every American. Right now, Mosaic Life Care said there currently are no out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 tests at the hospital.

Blunt, along with Health Committee Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander, sees promise in two kinds of tests, a diagnostic one to determine if someone has COVID-19 and an antibodies test that would confirm a past infection, even for people who showed no serious symptoms. That second test could suggest if someone is immune to COVID-19.

The two senators issued a joint statement that called widespread testing a key to getting the country back on its feet. A better grasp of who has COVID-19, before they enter the emergency room, would make it possible to isolate positive cases and deal with the virus in a more targeted way.

The senators also believe that the second kind of test, the one that looks for antibodies, would remove some of the skittishness that makes Americans reluctant to engage in normal social and economic activities.

“We are dealing not just with a medical issue here. We are dealing with an issue of confidence,” they said in a joint statement. “Free tests will help contain the disease and give Americans confidence that it is safe to go back to work and back to school and restart the economy.”

Some would suggest that the testing ship has sailed, but that is incorrect. Without testing, we’re flying blind, with little choice but to shut down schools, workplaces and civic facilities.

All Americans should have access to free testing, at least by August when students are ready for school, but preferably much sooner.

– St. Joseph News-Press