Watchdog to Investigate CDC Testing Issues After Push From Senator Murray
The Health Department Inspector General announced earlier this week it would investigate CDC’s development of COVID-19 tests
Missteps from the Trump Administration have constantly hindered COVID-19 response and delayed testing
Murray: “We need answers and we need solutions, and I’m fighting to make sure we get both as quickly as possible.”
(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray released the following statement in response to news that the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS OIG) would audit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s efforts to produce and distribute COVID-19 lab test kits. The announcement from the HHS OIG comes after Senator Murray pressed for such an investigation from it last month.
“The Trump Administration’s continued issues in ramping up diagnostic testing have put people’s lives at risk, these delays just aren’t acceptable. We need answers and we need solutions, and I’m fighting to make sure we get both as quickly as possible. This investigation is an important step in shedding light on what went wrong here so we can make sure this never happens again.
“Unfortunately we are still way behind where we need to be when it comes to testing. I’m going to continue to hold President Trump accountable for the delays that put us so far behind, while laying out a roadmap for what we need to do to finally get back on track.”
The news from HHS OIG comes as a new Democratic Policy and Communications Committee report released on Wednesday further underscores how the U.S. is still lagging behind other countries in testing and as experts make clear that hundreds of millions of tests will be necessary to safely ease social distancing.
In response to the Trump Administration’s failure to rapidly expand testing capacity for COVID-19, Senator Murray released a new policy white paper this week, “A Roadmap to Reopening by Ensuring a Speedy and Ubiquitous Lab Testing System (RESULTS),” which outlines Democrats’ agenda to quickly ramp up COVID-19 testing:
- Requiring a strategic plan to leverage a “whole of society” response;
- Emergency funding to enable rapid scaling of testing and the full range of activities that support testing and maximize its impact;
- Pipeline to develop, validate, and allocate accurate, reliable tests to ensure adequate supply;
- Structures to administer tests in every community across the country;
- Robust public health infrastructure to respond to results and better contain COVID-19; and
- Transparency and accountability across the testing system.
Senator Murray has been leading since the start of the COVID-19 crisis in pressing for action and accountability regarding diagnostic testing.
Timeline of Senator Murray’s efforts on diagnostic testing below.
- January 27, 2020: Senator Murray writes to Secretary Azar about the coronavirus response, asks about diagnostic testing capacity.
- February 4, 2020: Senator Murray, Representative Derek Kilmer write to CDC Director Redfield urging distribution of tests to state and local health officials.
- February 25, 2020: Senator Murray grills Secretary Azar about preparedness and diagnostic testing issues in LHHS hearing.
- March 3, 2020: Senator Murray presses public health officials on response and ability to scale up testing at HELP hearing.
- March 5, 2020: Senator Murray writes to Vice President Pence demanding answers on testing delays.
- March 10, 2020: Senators Murray, Wyden, and Schumer write to Vice President Pence about testing availability and affordability.
- March 10, 2020: As the number of U.S. cases passes 1,000, Secretary Azar says “we don’t how” many patients have been tested for COVID-19 and CDC Director Redfield says U.S. labs may not have an adequate stock of supplies used to obtain results from a patient’s sample.
- March 12, 2020: Senator Murray calls on Administration to name one individual solely responsible for immediately improving testing efforts.
- March 13, 2020: Administration announces Admiral Giroir, HHS Assistant Secretary, will be in charge of testing efforts among public health service agencies.
- March 16, 2020: Senator Murray and Senator Warren send a letter requesting information from HHS about the many failures throughout the testing process.
- March 21, 2020: Senator Murray and Senator Peters send a letter to Vice President Pence requesting the Administration make information about nationwide testing capacity, hospital bed space, personal protective equipment inventories, and more publicly available to improve transparency and efficiency in Coronavirus response efforts.
- March 27, 2020: Senator Murray writes to Vice President Pence demanding transparency around the Trump Administration’s failure to assist states as they face dire shortages of medical supplies—including test and supplies needed to conduct them.
- April 7, 2020: Senator Murray and Senator Wyden write to CDC requesting it publicly report all available information about who is able to access COVID-19 tests.
- April 13, 2020: Senator Murray and Senator Cantwell call on Vice President Pence to conduct a national inventory of the coronavirus (COVID-19) diagnostic testing supply, publicly release data on testing results, and provide a detailed plan and timeline for addressing future shortages and gaps in the testing supply chain.
- April 15, 2020: Senator Murray announced Roadmap to RESULTS, an agenda to rapidly expand COVID-19 testing.
Read Senator Murray’s white paper on expanding COVID-19 testing, Roadmap to RESULTS, HERE.
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