There have been major delays in the implementation of any kind of large-scale testing of Americans for the continuously spreading Coronavirus, and this Tuesday at a public Senate Health Committee hearing, Senators on both sides of the aisle harshly criticized Trump administration officials over their bungled virus response. As of early this week, in the more than six weeks since the virus first appeared in the U.S., the stunningly low number of just around 4,000 people have been tested for it — although it’s obviously spreading, since the death toll has already hit nine, all of whom succumbed in Washington state.
Problems have emerged like reported unspecified contamination of the virus testing kit production process at the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who produces the tests for public health facilities. The CDC claims that by the end of the week, those public health facilities will be able to test tens of thousands of people. At this Tuesday’s Senate hearing, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn similarly claimed that private manufacturers would have a full one million tests supposedly ready to go for private practices by the end of the week — but, again, that’s another promise after the virus has already spread who knows how far.
The committee’s ranking member Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) was among those to throw down the gauntlet. She insisted:
‘People across my state and I’m sure across the nation are really scared. I’m hearing from people who are sick, who want to get tested, and are not being told where to go. I’m hearing that even when people do get tested, and it’s very few so far, the results are taking way longer to get back to them. The administration has had months to prepare for this, and it is unacceptable that people in my state and nationwide can’t even get an answer as to whether or not they are infected.’
She got even more direct, continuing:
‘To put it simply: if someone at the White House or in this administration is actually in charge of responding to the coronavirus, it’d be news to anybody in my state, and I have been on the phone with all of our local officials, for days now.’
Sen. Patty Murray expresses frustrations on U.S. government's coronavirus response.
"To put it simply: if someone at the White House or in this administration is actually in charge of responding to the coronavirus, it'd be news to anybody in my state." https://t.co/vuDt7XMj1W pic.twitter.com/nZmuzD1QZc
— ABC News (@ABC) March 3, 2020
Supposedly, Vice President Mike Pence has been put in charge of leading the White House response to Coronavirus, but his “experience” includes presiding over the state of Indiana as governor while the state suffered an HIV outbreak, which he exacerbated by ideological refusals to appropriately and effectively expand public health services for those affected. In other words, it’s not exactly encouraging. Health Committee member Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) noted that it “doesn’t seem to be that we were” prepared enough to substantively stop the virus spread.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) insisted that the U.S. is “well-prepared to respond to the epidemic,” but that just doesn’t seem to be the case.
Trump can’t even be bothered to take the situation seriously. Instead, he’s dismissed negative coverage of the administration’s response to the virus as a “hoax.”