House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer expressed concern that President Donald Trump failed to mention the lack of coronavirus testing available in the US during his Wednesday night, televised national address.
The president spoke from the Oval Office about the coronavirus and the measures that he and his administration are taking to curb the spread of the virus and offer relief to workers and businesses.
Some measures the president mentioned included suspending travel for 30 days from all countries in Europe except the United Kingdom for non US-citizens and permanent residents, and asking Congress to provide payroll tax relief and waivers for small businesses.
„We have a public health crisis in this country and the best way to help keep the American people safe and ensure their economic security is for the president to focus on fighting the spread of the coronavirus itself,“ they said in the statement. „Alarmingly, the president did not say how the administration will address the lack of coronavirus testing kits throughout the United States.“
While Trump did mention that major health insurance companies would waive copays for coronavirus treatment, insurance industry group America’s Health Insurance Plans contradicted the president’s statement and said it would only apply to coronavirus testing, not treatment.
The US has been struggling to distribute tests as case numbers grow in the country, prompting the CDC’s decision to create their own test, which turned out to be faulty. As of Wednesday, there are more than 1,300 confirmed coronavirus cases in the US and 38 deaths.
As of Monday evening, The Atlantic tallied that fewer than 5,000 people in the US had been tested, compared to more than 24,000 tests in the United Kingdom. This week, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the federal government was not tracking how many people were tested.
„Coronavirus has been circulating in the United States for weeks. We didn’t detect it because we weren’t testing properly,“ Matthew McCarthy, a hospitalist at NYC’s Weill Cornell Medicine, said in a tweet on Sunday. „There may have been cryptic transmission in Washington state since January. If I sound alarmed, it’s because I am.“
In his national address, Trump called on Congress to push past the partisanship and to unify in order to fight the coronavirus outbreak in the US. In response, Pelosi and Schumer urged members of the GOP to pass a bill called the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
„The bill will include free coronavirus testing, paid emergency leave for workers, food security assistance, help to states overburdened by Medicaid costs, and strengthened Unemployment Insurance, among other much-needed measures to keep the American people safe,“ they said in a statement.