WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today health experts are testifying before a senate committee to lay out the latest facts behind the health epidemic that’s now spread to almost every continent, and infected 100 people in the U.S. So far.
The administration and Republicans insist the outbreak is under control, Democrats are calling for more testing resources, and expressing concern about the impact the disease will have on low-income Americans or the insured.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-WA, said, “People in my area scared”
Washington Democratic Senator Patty Murray is blasting the Trump Administration’s response to the coronavirus.
“If someone at the White House or in this administration is actually in charge or responding to the coronavirus it would be news to anybody in my state”
So far, seven people have died in Murray’s home state of Washington and states around the country have declared states of emergencies.
Murray says providing states with reliable tests will help stop the spread.
“Families deserve to know and fast when testing will be ready”
FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn assured lawmakers states will receive test kits by the end of the week.
Stephen Hahn, FDA Commissioner, said, “Up to a million tests, 2,500 kits and 500 tests per kit”
National Institute of Health Director Anthony Fauci says while it will likely take over a year for a vaccine, drugs to treat the virus will likely be ready soon.
Anthony Facui, NIH Director, said “We should know in a period of a few months in several months if this particular drug works, if it does the implantation of that would be almost immediate”
Senator Murray says she fears low-income workers, and those without health insurance will keep working even when they are sick.
“Guess who can’t stay home if you don’t have childcare if you are a low wage worker,” said Murray.
But republicans like Kansas Republican Pat Roberts says health officials are doing a good job.
Sen. Pat Roberts, R-KS, said, “All of you should take a bow”
Still Roberts says he hopes – with the passage of a multi billion dollar emergency package – vulnerable rural communities will get the help they need to combat the virus.
Congress is expected to pass that plan by the end of the week.
Congressional negotiators have not finalized that bill quite yet, but sources say it would provide 7-and-a-half billion dollars in funding to combat the coronavirus.
That’s much higher than the $2.5 billion dollars previously requested by the White House.
Missouri Republican Roy Blunt says whatever funding gets approved will mostly focus on vaccine development.
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-MO, said, “Substantial amount of money will go to develop a vaccine, we’d be fortunate and would set a u.s. record if a vaccine was available in 18 months.”
Blunt went on to say that U.S. Health officials have made significant progress and could have a vaccine in less than a year.