March 03, 2020
At Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Hearing, Senator Highlights Need for Additional Testing Kits
To watch the Senator’s questioning, click here.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan questioned top administration officials about their agencies’ efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus and provide consistent, accurate information to the public during a Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing today.
Senator Hassan began her questioning, “What is clear at this point is that the domestic testing capacity has been significantly lower here in the United States than what we’ve seen in countries like South Korea and Italy. So Doctor [Schuchat] are you confident that policies put in place by CDC and FDA over the past few days will allow states to test for coronavirus at a level commensurate with what this rapidly evolving outbreak requires?” Dr. Anne Schuchat, the Principal Deputy Director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), responded that she was “optimistic” about efforts to increase testing capacity.
Elaborating on her concerns, Senator Hassan stated, “So for instance, my state which had its first confirmed case yesterday, has a dwindling number of kits and they tell me they have to do two tests per patient, because if you get a negative then you’re going to retest the next day, and we’re still having to send tests in to CDC for confirmation even when we do them at the state level. So when do you expect to reach a point where CDC will no longer have to perform confirmatory testing on samples from state labs?”
“Yeah that should be very soon, state by state, as they verify their procedures, and we’ve worked closely with FDA to expedite that,” Dr. Schuchat responded.
Senator Hassan also raised the need for consistent, accurate information from the administration to the public. Addressing Food and Drug Administration Commissioner (FDA) Hahn, Senator Hassan said, “I would urge you…to get a process in place so that you are making sure that your communications are clear to the public and that they’re integrated.”
In addition to today’s hearing, Senator Hassan will question the acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security in a hearing on the department’s budget tomorrow, and on Thursday, Senator Hassan will participate in a Homeland Security Committee hearing on coronavirus with leading officials from the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services. Earlier this week, Senator Hassan participated in a briefing in Manchester with New Hampshire officials and her colleagues in the New Hampshire Congressional Delegation on the coronavirus response in the state.
Over the last month, Senator Hassan has participated in a number of briefings with senior officials from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Senator Hassan has also sent letters to federal agencies focused on assessing the scope of the administration’s response to coronavirus and determining what additional funding is needed to support state and local response efforts.
For more information about what Granite Staters and all Americans can do to contain the spread of coronavirus, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/.
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