Pelosi and Schumer say it's 'alarming' that Trump failed to mention the lack of coronavirus testing in the US in his national address
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement it was "alarming" that the president failed to mention the lack of coronavirus testing kits available in the US. The president spoke in an address from the Oval Office about the novel coronavirus and the measures that he and his administration are taking to curb the spread and help impacted business and workers. The US has been struggling to distribute tests as case numbers grow in the country, due in part because of the CDC's decision to create their own test, which was ini tally faulty. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
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. In a joint statement, Pelosi and Schumer said it was "alarming" that the president failed to mention the lack of coronavirus testing kits available in the US as the outbreak continues. "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. However, in comparison to other countries completing coronavirus tests like South Korea and Italy, the US is falling far behind in detecting cases.
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.
Read more: One chart shows how many coronavirus tests per capita have been completed in 8 countries. The US is woefully behind. Trump's coronavirus task force is reportedly awaiting 'research' from Jared Kushner before making an emergency declaration The White House scrambles to clarify key details from Trump's speech announcing his coronavirus response Global stocks plunge after Trump announces coronavirus response package All the times Trump risked exposing himself to coronavirus as his advisers urge people his age to be extremely cautious SEE ALSO: Trump was caught saying 'oh f---" into a 'hot mic' moments before he began his televised speech on the coronavirus Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: A law professor weighs in on how Trump could beat impeachment
More like this (3)
A New York Times reporter followed coronavirus swabs from a New Jersey drive-thru testing site to a lab hundreds of miles away, and it shows why the testing in the US is still slow and limited
Although the US has ramped up its coronavirus testing capacity in recent weeks, the country still...Although the US has ramped up its coronavirus testing capacity in recent weeks, the country still lags behind others in testing per capita. According to figures from the COVID Tracking Project, the US has tested just over 2.9 million people as of April 13, or just about one in every 112 people. Rukmini Callimachi, a correspondent for The New York Times, followed these tests from the time they are taken by a nurse at a testing facility to the time they are delivered to labs and found a number of roadblocks delaying the diagnostic process. And even as the US continues to improve its testing capabilities, several mistakes were made early on that have stalled the testing process, which the US is still catching up on. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. President Donald Trump has recently hailed the United States' advancements in coronavirus testing even as the number of cases in the country continues to mount. "The United States has done far more 'testing' than any other nation, by far!" Trump claimed on March 25. On April 2, Trump repeated this claim, saying that the US was "now conducting well over 100,000 coronavirus tests per day ... which is more than any other country in the world, both in terms of the raw number and also on a per capita basis, the most." Despite these claims and the increased testing capacity, the US has still lags behind other countries in testing per capita. According to figures from the COVID Tracking Project, the US has tested just over 2.9 million people as of April 13, or just about one in every 112 people, though some states like Iowa have completed far fewer tests than states like New York and California. Other hard-hit countries have administered far more tests per capita: As of April 13, Germany has conducted over 1.3 million tests, or about one in every 63 people, while Italy has conducted tests on over one million people, equal to roughly one in every 57 people. Data from the Association of Public Health Laboratories indicates that as of April 12, there are 95 laboratories that have been successfully verified and are currently using COVID-19 diagnostic tests. But how these diagnostic tests go from testing sites to a lab remains a long and complicated task. Rukmini Callimachi, a correspondent for The New York Times, traced these tests, from the time they are taken by a nurse at a testing facility to the time they are delivered to labs to be confirmed, and found a number of roadblocks delaying the diagnostic process. Callimachi began her journey at a drive-thru testing site in Paramus, New Jersey, and observed hundreds of people in cars lined up, many from the night before, to have their test taken once the facility opens at 8 a.m. local time. According to Callimachi, this particular site only tests 500 residents per day. Among the qualifications to get tested, people need to present a New Jersey ID and show symptoms of the coronavirus. Once the tests are administered, they are shipped to labs for analysis. But according to Callimachi, many labs have been overwhelmed by a backlog of tests, and so tests are sometimes shipped to further locations in other states. The US only allowed private labs to begin testing on February 29. According to Callimachi, these private labs have taken on the burden of COVID-19 testing, and test specimens are shipped in from around the country. The New Jersey specimens that Callimachi followed were diverted to a lab in Chantilly, Virginia, over 270 miles away. The tests were then driven to an airport and flown to Virginia, encountering delays due to weather along the way. Once at the Chantilly facility, tests are painstakingly loaded by hand into machines that analyze samples, she said. The enzymes needed to process the samples are also in short supply, according to Callimachi, leading to caps on the number of tests that can be processed per day. Callimachi said that in some cases, it is days before people are told whether they have tested positive or negative. "Initially, the strain came from a lack of test kits, but now there are not enough nasal swabs, not enough nurses," Callimachi wrote. "There is a pileup at the labs themselves and a limited supply of the chemicals needed to identify the virus." As the US continues to improve its testing capabilities, several mistakes were made early on that stalled the testing process, which the US is still catching up on. Test kit shortages and potentially faulty kits initially stalled health authorities' abilities to monitor the number of infections. And Quest Diagnostics, one of the US's biggest testing companies, has said it has a major backlog of tests from when the private lab was first allowed to begin testing in late February. "In approximately the first two weeks of providing testing, we experienced a sharp influx of test orders that continued to outpace our growing capacity through March," the company said in a statement. "There was so much promise and fanfare about the commercial laboratories being to take on the bulk of the testing in the country," Kelly Wroblewski of the Association of Public Health Laboratories told NPR last week. "But the demand is so incredibly high. And the capacity to process and do the testing is stretched incredibly thin."Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: How waste is dealt with on the world's largest cruise ship
Coronavirus Live Updates: Global Leaders Beg Public to Stay Home; Fed Vows to Buy as Much Debt as Needed
Spain’s health system is under strain as medical workers fall ill. A $1.8 trillion relief package...Spain’s health system is under strain as medical workers fall ill. A $1.8 trillion relief package is stalled in Congress. “We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself,” President Trump said.
The House of Representatives passed a bill to provide financial relief to Americans hamstrung by the...The House of Representatives passed a bill to provide financial relief to Americans hamstrung by the novel coronavirus. It now heads to the Senate. President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he supported the deal reached between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. COVID-19, the name of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has increasingly shuttered businesses across the nation and encouraged consumers to stay home. The legislation sought to expand paid sick leave and other programs during the pandemic. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. In the early hours on Saturday morning, the House of Representatives passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to provide financial relief to Americans hamstrung by the novel coronavirus — which has increasingly shuttered businesses across the nation and encouraged consumers to stay home. The measure will now head to the Senate for a vote. If it passes, the president has said he will sign the bill into law. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi initially announced that a deal had been reached between Democrats and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Friday evening. Shortly after, Trump tweeted that he supported the bill, saying he was looking "forward to signing the final Bill, ASAP!" The Families First Coronavirus Response Act seeks to expand paid sick leave and other programs during the pandemic. Washington has dramatically escalated its response this week to the respiratory illness COVID-19, which has sickened more than 1,200 throughout the US. The bill includes free coronavirus testing, paid leave (including sick leave) protections for frontline workers, enhanced unemployment insurance, food security measures, and increased Medicaid funding. "The coronavirus crisis presents a grave and accelerating threat to public health and to the economic security and well-being of the American people," Pelosi said in a statement. "As members of Congress, we have a solemn and urgent responsibility to take strong, serious action to confront and control this crisis and to put Families First and stimulate the economy." The legislation was meant to build on an $8 billion coronavirus response package, which was approved with overwhelming bipartisan support within a matter of days last week. It called to expand unemployment insurance and support for small businesses, potentially through loans and tax deferrals. But Republican leaders initially objected to certain aspects of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that was proposed by Democrats a day earlier, prompting two days of behind-the-scenes negotiations between Pelosi and Mnuchin. Read more: Goldman Sachs studied every bear market in stocks since 1835 — and concluded that 3 red flags make this coronavirus-driven one unlike any other in history Key issues included how a paid sick leave mandate would be carried out, with Republicans arguing that the Social Security Administration would take six months to send out checks. Some also pushed for amendments that would set an end date for the legislation and offer certain businesses exemptions. As concerns about the economy rose rapidly without signs of progress on the bill Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the upper chamber would no longer take a recess that had been scheduled for next week. "I hope Congress can pass bipartisan legislation to continue combating the coronavirus and keep our economy strong," McConnell said. On Wednesday evening, Trump announced the Treasury Department would defer tax payments for certain people and businesses in a move that he said would add $200 billion of liquidity to the economy. But other proposals from the White House have fallen flat on Capitol Hill, such as a payroll-tax cut that critics said would be ineffective and expensive. Policy responses from Washington have done little to ease fears about growth in the largest economy, which a growing number of experts have forecast could contract this year. Wall Street suffered its worst day since the 1987 stock-market crash on Thursday, even as the Federal Reserve stepped in with $1.5 trillion worth of short-term loans to banks.SEE ALSO: Republicans oppose coronavirus bill that would provide paid sick leave and free testing for the illness Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: A big-money investor in juggernauts like Facebook and Netflix breaks down the '3rd wave' firms that are leading the next round of tech disruption