News Releases

Interviews with COVID-19 test manufacturers, equipment manufacturers, laboratories, industry associations, and state officials reveal chaotic, uncoordinated federal response led to avoidable shortages of certain supplies, delays, and mistakes 

30-page report warns supply chain issues could make it impossible to expand—or even maintain—testing capacity if federal government continues its refusal to lead

Report offers 26 recommendations to improve COVID-19 testing capacity, apply lessons learned to vaccine development and delivery, and improve the response to future disease outbreaks

ICYMI: Trump administration’s approach to testing is chaotic and unhelpful, states say – MORE HERE from the Washington Post

Senator Murray:  “Without leadership and a serious change of course from the Trump Administration, it’s not a question of if these issues we are still struggling with will spiral out of control—but only a matter of when.” 

Senator Murray: “This should also be a stark warning about the importance of demanding a comprehensive national vaccine plan from this Administration… A plan for that kind of undertaking isn’t negotiable—it’s absolutely necessary.”

Report: “Had there been competent, consistent leadership from the federal government, the United States could have avoided critical delays and better addressed supply shortages, allowing testing capacity to expand more rapidly.” 

**Read the full report HERE**

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released a new report detailing the Trump Administration’s failure to quickly scale up COVID-19 testing nationwide. The new report makes clear how a lack of federal leadership from the Trump Administration greatly complicated and delayed efforts across the country to expand COVID-19 testing access, costing valuable time when the virus could have been better contained, and leaving states and communities without the testing they needed to protect families as they fought to slow the spread and get the pandemic under control. The report concludes with a series of recommendations for how lessons learned can be applied in the near term—both to address ongoing concerns with testing, and to prevent similar mistakes from hindering the effort to provide a safe, effective vaccine nationwide.

“This report leaves no question President Trump’s refusal to lead made this crisis worse. At issue now is what we’re going to do to stop him from repeating these costly mistakes—and this could not be more urgent. Skyrocketing cases across the country are already straining our still inadequate testing capacity and without leadership and a serious change of course from the Trump Administration, it’s not a question of if these issues we are still struggling with will spiral out of control—but only a matter of when,” said Senator Murray.

“This should also be a stark warning about the importance of demanding a comprehensive national vaccine plan from this Administration. Rapidly and equitably developing, producing, distributing, and administering hundreds of millions of doses of safe, effective vaccine will be a massive challenge. A plan for that kind of undertaking isn’t negotiable—it’s absolutely necessary. If the Trump Administration’s vaccine efforts are even a fraction as chaotic as their testing efforts, our country is in deep trouble.”

As COVID-19 spread across the country, the Trump Administration refused to use the power of the federal government to coordinate testing, failed to communicate with states and industry or provide clear centralized leadership, and refused to offer a detailed national plan to address these issues. The Administration’s missteps led to chaos, supply shortages, disparities in access to testing, and delays nationwide. The report further details how states struggled to get the supplies they needed, even when such supplies were promised by the federal government, and how they regularly found the federal government’s chaotic, uncoordinated response to be more of a hindrance than a help.

According to the report, “The Trump Administration’s failure to stand up an effective and efficient COVID-19 testing system has resulted in irrevocable harm to the nation’s health and economy. Had there been competent, consistent leadership from the federal government, the United States could have avoided critical delays and better addressed supply shortages, allowing testing capacity to expand more rapidly. Instead, President Trump and his Administration largely took a hands-off approach.”

In addition to looking at the failures so far, the report made clear that many challenges with testing remain, including the need for more tests before schools and workplaces can safely reopen, the lack of sufficient tests in congregate care facilities, and the fact that supply chains continue to be unreliable and insufficient to expand testing—or even maintain current capacity. The report warned new supply issues could soon become a limiting factor for testing capacity.

At Senator Murray’s direction, Senate HELP Committee Democratic staff developed the report after conducting interviews with people throughout the COVID-19 diagnostic testing landscape, including manufacturers of COVID-19 diagnostic tests and test equipment, clinical laboratories, officials in eight states and the District of Columbia, and industry associations representing manufacturers, laboratories, and public health departments and officials across the country.

Read the full report HERE and view a summary its recommendations below.

Recommendations to Improve Testing Capacity for the COVID-19 Pandemic

  1. Reestablish a public health official whose sole job is to lead diagnostic testing efforts for the federal government. 
  2. Designate funding for diagnostic testing and subsequent public health interventions.
  3. Identify the bottlenecks in the testing supply chain.
  4. Assess and publish inventory of testing supplies. 
  5. Address shortages and optimize the supply chain.
  6. Guarantee the federal supply process is responsive to state needs.
  7. Establish a quality control mechanism for all supplies being distributed by the federal government to states. 
  8. Provide detailed guidance for various settings on how to incorporate testing into reopening decisions. 
  9. Use testing to prevent and identify COVID-19 outbreaks in congregate settings.
  10. Ensure testing is reaching communities of color and low-wage workers.
  11. Prepare testing capacity for the confluence of COVID-19 and seasonal flu infections. 

Recommendations to Apply Lessons Learned to Vaccine Development and Delivery

  1. Maintain clear leadership by a public health official or entity throughout the entire process of developing, distributing, and administering COVID-19 vaccines.
  2. Establish open pathways of communication between the federal government and states. 
  3. Establish a consistent and reliable stock of supplies necessary to manufacture, distribute, and administer a vaccine. 
  4. Assess and resolve barriers to vaccine distribution and administration.
  5. Develop clear guidance to ensure the vaccine is prioritized for those who need it most. 

Recommendations to Ensure a Stronger Response to Future Infectious Disease Outbreaks

  1. Reestablish public health leadership within the White House.
  2. Guarantee long-term investments in public health infrastructure.
  3. Incorporate diagnostic testing into preparedness exercises. 
  4. Diversify test development strategies and provide transparency. 
  5. Increase CDC lab transparency and accountability.
  6. Assess domestic and global supply chains. 
  7. Rebuild the national stockpile to be better prepared for diagnostic testing needs. 
  8. Maintain a nationwide assessment of current and projected testing capacity.
  9. Fully implement recommendations by independent investigative entities on diagnostic testing.
  10. Incorporate an analysis of diagnostic testing development into a comprehensive review following the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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