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Senators Shaheen, Hassan Push for More Information, Transparency on COVID-19 Testing

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) and colleagues in calling on Vice President Mike Pence and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to conduct a national inventory of the 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. 

“Over three weeks after President Trump declared the COVID-19 outbreak a national emergency, we continue to hear from our states and Tribal Nations about the lack of supplies and testing kits to diagnose our constituents for the coronavirus,” wrote the Senators. “State departments of health, hospitals, health care providers, and first responders lack the tests and equipment—including personal protective equipment (PPE), testing swabs, and reagents—needed to conduct adequate public health surveillance to contain and stop the spread of coronavirus.” 

The Senators continued, “Widespread diagnostic testing is crucial to controlling the COVID-19 outbreak. In the short term, quickly obtaining test results for hospitalized patients allows hospitals to preserve supplies of PPE and prevents unnecessary quarantines of front-line health care workers and first responders. In the long run, experts have argued that widespread testing will be needed to track and contain COVID-19 cases, allowing communities to slowly lift general social distancing restrictions without putting the public at risk.” 

The Senators continued, “We urge you to promptly develop a national, real-time, public-facing inventory of COVID-19 diagnostic tests and results. This resource will provide the transparency that our states and Tribal Nations need to anticipate the national testing supply chain and the information that the federal government needs to anticipate and proactively address any testing shortages.”

The letter is part of Senators Shaheen and Hassan’s ongoing efforts to push the administration to produce and distribute testing kits and other necessary medical supplies to New Hampshire. The COVID-19 response package that Congress passed into law includes more than $100 billion to help hospitals and frontline health care workers scale up their capacity to treat more patients, purchase essential supplies and personal protective equipment, and cover some of the costs related to hospitals cancelling elective procedures. Governor Sununu also joined the New Hampshire Congressional Delegation in urging President Trump to take additional action to swiftly get critical medical supplies such as personal protective equipment, swabs for diagnostic testing, and ventilators to New Hampshire.

Read the full letter here.