Press Call This Morning Detailed How Trump Administration Caused Testing Crisis in US, Why Country Needs a National Testing Strategy
Listen to Audio of Call Here
(Washington, D.C.) – On a press call this morning, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, along with Yale University Professor of Public Health (Health Policy), Management and Economics Dr. Howard Forman and Protect Our Care’s Coronavirus War Room detailed how the mismanagement of the coronavirus response by the Trump administration has led to a testing crisis in the US, and why the country needs a national testing strategy.
“From the start of this crisis, families in my home state of Washington have been asking ‘where are the tests?’ We know now without a doubt the Trump Administration’s early testing delays and missteps cost us dearly, in time and lives. So it’s entirely inexcusable that two months later we are still asking ‘where are the tests?’ In fact, unbelievably, we are still asking ‘where is the plan to increase testing?’” said Senator Murray. “The so-called testing ‘blueprint’ President Trump unveiled recently does nothing new and will accomplish nothing new—but we aren’t letting him off the hook. The legislation Congress passed last week included a provision I secured requiring the Trump Administration to provide a national plan to increase testing within 30 days. We’ve put President Trump on the clock, and we’re putting him on notice as well about what sort of detailed plan we expect to see here.”
“If from the very beginning of this outbreak in the United States we had access to adequate testing, we would have been able to stop the spread of this virus in its tracks the way that many other nations have,” said Dr. Howard Forman. “And now that we’re facing the biggest outbreak in the world, we’re still falling behind other nations. Testing isn’t just about figuring out who is sick and who isn’t for treatment. It’s about identifying which individuals would infect someone else, and that sort of testing simply isn’t happening in the United States right now. The bottom line is that we need to vastly increase testing in the United States in order to be at a level where we can begin to slow down further infections and start thinking about reopening our economy.”
“In the next week or so, Congress will start work on the next COVID response bill, and it's critical that this bill protect our health, our people, and our economy,” said Leslie Dach, Chair of Protect Our Care. “Testing must be a key focus of that legislation. The legislation should also focus on making more protective equipment available for health care and essential workers, increase capabilities for contact tracing to mitigate further spread, and increase health care protections for the millions of Americans that are uninsured, have lost their jobs, or have contracted coronavirus. Congress should pass a special enrollment period so the uninsured can buy affordable coverage through the Affordable Care Act, and increase financial assistance to further lower costs. Congress should also protect the millions of Americans who now have a pre-existing condition because of the coronavirus, stopping junk insurance plans and the President’s efforts to overturn the ACA in the courts. The Trump administration is not doing the job in any of these areas, and because of that, Congress must.”
“The United States became the first country to reach a million confirmed coronavirus infections yesterday, more than 50,000 Americans have lost their lives, over 26 million are now unemployed, and somehow the Trump administration is calling their response a ‘great success story,’” said Zac Petkanas, Director of Protect Our Care’s Coronavirus War Room. “The truth is that Trump and his administration’s response is anything but a success -- especially when it comes to testing. They made huge promises that they simply haven’t delivered, including that ‘anybody who wants a test can get a test.’ But they aren’t fooling anyone, the American people understand just how much this administration has failed on testing — and they blame Trump’s impulsive and chaotic decision making for it. It’s time for Trump to stop trying to spin his disastrous coronavirus record and take action to increase testing in America.”
Read Senator Murray full remarks on the call below:
“From the start of this crisis, families in my home state of Washington have been asking ‘where are the tests?’
“We know now without a doubt the Trump Administration’s early testing delays and missteps cost us dearly, in time and lives.
“So it’s entirely inexcusable that two months later we are still asking ‘where are the tests?’
“In fact, unbelievably, we are still asking ‘where is the plan to increase testing?’
“Because we know that until testing is fast, free, and everywhere, we can’t safely reopen our country—and right now we’re nowhere close.
“But the so-called testing “blueprint” President Trump unveiled this week fails by every measure of what we need here: No specific, numeric goals. No timeframe. No ideas to fix our broken supply chain. No details whatsoever on expanding lab capacity or activating needed manufacturing capacity.
“In short, it does nothing new and will accomplish nothing new.
“Instead, it attempts to leave states to tackle problems that are obviously federal responsibilities.
“As communities across the country look to the federal government to do more… President Trump is making it clear he couldn’t care less.
“But we aren’t letting him off the hook.
“The legislation Congress passed last week included a provision I secured requiring the Trump Administration to provide a national plan to increase testing within 30 days.
“We’ve put President Trump on the clock, and now we’re putting him on notice. I’m going to be warning President Trump against cutting corners, and detailing what a serious plan looks like.
“Democrats are going to make it crystal clear that this plan must spell out our goals on tests per day, and tests per week, for both diagnostic and serologic testing.
“It needs to project what supplies are required in what number—and how to manage the supply chain to secure them.
“It needs to make sure we have the personnel and lab capacity to run these tests.
“The Administration’s plan also needs to map out how it will distribute and administer these tests nationwide—particularly in medically underserved communities and among high risk populations; how it will collaborate with partners to set up community testing sites; and how it will enforce the laws we’ve previously passed to make sure testing is provided at no cost.
“The plan needs to advise states on expanding testing guidelines to include the asymptomatic
“It needs to outline how we rapidly recruit and train the workforce we need to expand contact tracing and meet key public health needs.
“And for all of this, it needs to lay out a specific timeline and funding needs.
“That’s the kind of clear, aggressive national strategic plan to dramatically ramp up testing that Congress has demanded, and that our country needs to move forward.
“So I’m going to keep the pressure on President Trump to provide a detailed plan, and to implement it like people expect the President of the United States of America and his team to do.