Oversight Committee Seeks Administration’s Plan for Coronavirus Testing Amid Widespread Rationing
Washington, D.C. (Mar. 19, 2020)— Today, the Committee on Oversight and Reform sent a letter seeking a copy of the Trump Administration’s plan for producing, distributing, and conducting coronavirus testing across the country.
The letter was signed by Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney, National Security Subcommittee Chairman Stephen F. Lynch, Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Gerry Connolly, Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee Chairman Raja Krishnamoorthi, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee Chairman Jamie Raskin, and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Harley Rouda.
“As you know, our Committee has been conducting oversight of the nation’s preparedness for, and response to, the coronavirus crisis, and our top priority is to promote the health and safety of the American people,” the Chairs wrote. “We are writing today to request limited, but important information about the status of coronavirus testing across the country. We hope you will be able to work with us to provide this critical information.”
This week, the New York Times published a leaked copy of the Trump Administration’s “Response Plan” for coronavirus dated last Friday, March 13, 2020. The document assumes the crisis “will last 18 months or longer” and could include “multiple waves of illness” that would significantly degrade our nation’s health care system.
“However, this document does not include a plan to address one of the most significant failings with the response to date—the shortfall in coronavirus testing,” the Chairs wrote. “[I]t does not include any specific timelines, projections, target dates, or quantities for manufacturing, distributing, or conducting coronavirus testing across the country.”
The Administration circulated its Response Plan internally one day after Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified before the Committee that the current testing system is “failing.”
“We are gravely concerned that, due to multiple missteps, people across the country have been unable to get tested as healthcare providers are being forced to ration the extremely limited number of tests available, significantly degrading our country’s ability to conduct accurate modeling of the spread of the virus and endangering the health and safety of the American people,” the Chairs wrote. “While other countries are accelerating their testing programs, ours remains far behind as the virus spreads throughout our nation largely undetected and doctors and nurses are forced to turn away people seeking tests even though they may be contagious.”
For example, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine reported on Friday that state authorities believe that more than 100,000 Ohio residents have undiagnosed cases of coronavirus, but only 1,000 testing kits have been made available to Ohio’s Department of Health. Yesterday, Governor DeWine warned that, due to the shortage, “The most important thing we can do right now, and I really can’t stress this enough, is to reserve the limited tests we have for those Ohioans that are the sickest and most at risk.”
“Time is of the essence, so we ask that you produce these documents by March 24, 2020,” the Chairs wrote. “We need information about the Administration’s plans for the production and distribution of coronavirus tests to determine whether Congress must take action to remedy these deficiencies. The House has already passed significant legislation to help address this crisis, and we are considering additional steps. This information is also necessary for local and state officials, medical professionals, and ordinary Americans to plan their response to this public health crisis.”
Click here to read today’s letter to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.