Democrats have ‘grave concerns’ over White House COVID test shortages

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A gaggle of Democratic senators say they have “grave concerns” in regards to the Biden administration’s response to COVID-19 and have requested the White House’s pandemic level man to clarify ongoing test shortages and associated points.

In a Thursday letter to COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients, Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) requested point-blank “why the Administration failed to take more significant steps earlier to increase access to at-home tests.”

“Across America, there are lines for city blocks long to get COVID testing, signs in pharmacies saying they are out of rapid tests, hospitals operating under crisis standards of care, health care staff and first responders falling ill, and millions of people who are exhausted from the toll this pandemic has had,” the lawmakers wrote. 

US President Joe Biden speaks about how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will rebuild the US and the progress made since he signed the bill into law, in the South Court Auditorium of the White House in Washington DC.
President Biden’s administration has come underneath fireplace for its response to the shortage of COVID-19 assessments.
Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP through Getty Images

“While we fully recognize the productive steps this Administration has taken to encourage vaccination, ensure ready access to vaccines, and increase options to treat the virus, far too many measures – such as increasing access to home-based testing – have been reactive, rather than proactive,” they added.

The White House reportedly rejected an knowledgeable plan in October that known as for the manufacturing of 732 million assessments per thirty days in a “Testing Surge To Prevent [a] Holiday COVID surge” and for “Every American Household to Receive Free Rapid Tests for the Holidays/New Year.”

Biden denied to The Post final month that his employees rejected the plan.

Sen. Jon Ossoff
Sen. Jon Ossoff together with different Democratic senators requested why the Biden administration didn’t make at-home COVID-19 assessments obtainable sooner.
CQ-Roll Call, Inc through Getty Imag

The president introduced on Dec. 21 that the federal authorities would supply 500 million at-home speedy assessments to Americans freed from cost because the nation battled a speedy improve in COVID circumstances throughout the holidays as a result of unfold of the Omicron variant.

Earlier this week, the president vowed his administration would procure one other 500 million assessments.

That wasn’t ok for the lawmakers, who informed Zients that “[t]his Administration either knew or should have known that testing shortages were occurring across the country over the past several months, and with the full expectation that the virus would likely mutate into a new variant steps to increase testing access should have happened before the current wave hit, not several weeks into the surge, with resources still not available until later this month or beyond.”

President Biden's Covid Response Team co-ordinator, Jeff Zients, in his West Wing office, in Washington, DC.
The Democratic senators wrote the letter to COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients expressing their issues.
Photo by Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post through Getty Images

On Friday, the White House issued an announcement asserting that Americans might lastly start ordering assessments by a authorities web site on Jan. 19 — however would have to attend one other 7-12 days earlier than really receiving them.

In addition to the shortage of assessments, the senators additionally stated they needed Zients to “address the steps you have taken to prepare the country for the increase in cases” in addition to “how you plan to mitigate the impact of the current and future variants moving forward.” 

The letter concluded by calling on Zients to clarify what the administration did to spice up testing capability after the invention of Omicron in late November, what’s being performed “to shorten wait times and improve testing availability” at federally-run websites stood up by the White House final month, and the way the “gap in public health data” as a result of improve in at-home testing is being addressed.

Sen. Mark Kelly
Sen. Mark Kelly and different Democrats within the Senate stated Biden’s efforts to extend at-home testing have been reactive, somewhat than proactive.
Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

Biden has repeatedly declined to reply questions from White House reporters pertaining to the pandemic, with the most recent instance happening Thursday. 

“Mr. President, do you have a message for vaccinated Americans who are wondering why they should continue to restrict their activities given your health officials say most Americans will get COVID at some point?” a reporter requested whereas being hustled out of an occasion.

“Folks, we’ll talk about that later,” Biden replied. “Come on, let’s go.”

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