April 13, 2020

Merkley, Wyden, Colleagues Push for More Information, Transparency on Coronavirus Testing Across Country

Senators pressed the vice president and other members of the coronavirus task force for a plan to address testing shortfalls and keep Americans informed


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, along with 45 of their Senate colleagues, are calling on Vice President Mike Pence and the Coronavirus Task Force, as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to conduct a national inventory of the coronavirus (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,” the senators wrote. “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, “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.”

Increasing testing capacity is critical to allow hospitals to preserve supplies of PPE and prevent unnecessary quarantines of front-line workers and first responders. In addition, experts have argued that widespread testing will be needed to track and contain COVID-19 cases, allowing communities to responsibly lift social distancing restrictions.

The full text of the senators’ letter is available here.