Shaheen Calls out FEMA for Insufficient COVID-19 Testing Supplies for Granite State, Urges Agency to Prioritize Additional Testing Kits for NH

April 08, 2020

SHAHEEN to FEMA: “While I appreciate the delivery of these new testing machines, the 120 test kits that New Hampshire received is woefully inadequate to address the testing demand in my state.”

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to prioritize COVID-19 testing kits for New Hampshire in reaction to the agency’s inadequate response to date, which includes 15 testing machines, but only 120 testing kits for the entire state. New Hampshire has reported 747 cases of COVID-19 as of April 7th.

Shaheen wrote, “I write to express concern regarding the insufficient number of test kits that New Hampshire has received in conjunction with the delivery of 15 new COVID-19 testing machines from Abbott Labs. While I appreciate the delivery of these new testing machines, the 120 test kits that New Hampshire received is woefully inadequate to address the testing demand in my state. Approximately 20 of these testing kits will be needed just to calibrate the new machines, which leaves New Hampshire with the ability to run only 100 additional tests with the Abbott Labs equipment. I urge you to make additional test kits available to my state to administer on the machines.”

Shaheen went on to underscore the critical role that testing plays in response efforts to contain the spread of the virus, and that without widespread testing, New Hampshire and any area without this access is “blind to the extent of the outbreak.”

She closed her letter by urging the agency to prioritize procurement of overall testing kits for New Hampshire and make testing a top priority. She concluded, “Testing must be a top priority as we seek to get people treatment and quarantine those who have been infected. It’s evident from the scant 120 test kits accompanying these 15 testing machines that we are in drastic need of producing and procuring additional kits. I urge you to intensify FEMA’s efforts to acquire these kits and increase the number of kits accompanying the testing machines coming to New Hampshire.”

Shaheen’s letter can be read in full here.

Shaheen previously called on FEMA to address delays delivering personal protective equipment to New Hampshire, and expressed her deep concerns with the agency sending unusable or expired supplies to first responders and health care personnel working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 outbreak. The agency has since delivered some urgently needed materials, but Shaheen continues to push FEMA to be more responsive to New Hampshire’s needs.

Senator Shaheen has fought for and voted in favor of three economic response bills to provide financial relief to states in their response efforts, to support workers, businesses and families impacted by the spread of the coronavirus, and new legislation to provide immediate financial relief to those affected by the pandemic. The President signed all three bills into law. The first economic package led to New Hampshire receiving an initial $4.9 million in funds from the CDC. Shaheen was a lead negotiator on the third economic response bill, where she worked around the clock with Senators Rubio (R-FL), Cardin (D-MD) and Collins (R-ME) on provisions to assist small businesses impacted by the coronavirus crisis.