“Far too many measures — such as increasing access to home-based testing — have been reactive, rather than proactive,” the letter reads.
The senators are calling on the administration to improve preparedness to ensure they are not caught off guard again and asking if they need Congress’ help to address the current spike in cases.
On Monday, a group of 50 lawmakers, including some high-profile Biden allies, such as independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, also wrote a letter to President Joe Biden, urging “additional, immediate steps” to ramp up testing supply so that every American has access to one rapid test a week.
The letter is also signed by Sens. Mark Kelly of Arizona, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Jon Ossoff of Georgia.
While praising the administration’s efforts to promote and distribute vaccines, the group is fiercely critical of the slowness to get tests out across the country.
“This Administration either knew or should have known that testing shortages were occurring across the country over the past several months, and with the full expectation that the virus would likely mutate into a new variant steps to increase testing access should have happened before the current wave hit, not several weeks into the surge, with resources still not available until later this month or beyond.”
Since the holidays, Covid-19 at-home tests have been difficult to find and there have been long lines at many testing facilities across the US.
Biden announced Thursday that he’s directing his team to procure another 500 million Covid-19 rapid tests in addition to the 500 million tests he announced last month would be distributed for free nationwide.
Biden also said the website where Americans can sign up for free tests to be mailed to them will be rolled out next week. More details are expected Friday, according to a White House official. But the administration is still in the process of acquiring the first half-billion Covid-19 tests and only last week began signing contracts to procure them. The White House said it expected the first free rapid tests to be delivered to the government “early next week.”