My Letter to Vice President Pence, Chair of the White House Coronavirus Task Force

https://www.whitehouse.gov/articles/vice-president-mike-pence-op-ed-isnt-coronavirus-second-wave/

Issues with Testing and the Supply Chain

  • Instead of pulling together a national inventory of testing supplies and capacity, in April, President Trump touted that the Administration simply had compiled and provided to each governor “a list of names, addresses, and phone numbers of the labs where they could find additional testing capacity in their states” and that this had resulted in a “skyrocket[ing]” number of tests.²⁴ But a majority of state health departments reached by news outlets said that the list was unhelpful, redundant, and inaccurate.²⁵
  • In response to the Trump Administration’s lack of action, Congress mandated that the Administration produce a “national testing strategy” to ensure that we could mitigate the myriad ways in which our country’s testing apparatus is currently failing. But at the end of May, the Trump Administration released its “national testing strategy” that frustratingly shirked executive responsibility, instead placing the burden of testing onto each individual state.²⁶ The Administration released this minimal national testing “strategy” around the same time that laboratories across the country were reporting that they were processing, as little as 25% of their total COVID-19 capacity.²⁷
  • In mid-June, the Administration had not distributed one-third of funds provided by Congress two months ago for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, $8 billion that could have been used to address shortages and staffing challenges.²⁸

Lack of Clear Guidance on Reopening, Social Distancing, and Mask Wearing

Failure to Build Up Contact Tracing Capacity

Questions

  1. Were you aware of estimates that the United States could soon see 100,000 new cases of coronavirus per day? If so, when were you made aware of this prediction and why have you not previously warned the American public?
  2. To what extent has the Federal government prepared for this type of caseload? Is there enough of each of the following to be able to respond to that overwhelming surge — not just for potential COVID-19 patients but also for every single medical worker, resident or staff member at a long-term care or congregate care facility, prisoner, prison employee, and essential worker (including grocery and delivery worker): a. Testing supplies, including reagents and swabs, and lab capacity; b. Personal protective equipment; c. Hospital capacity, including intensive care units, hospital beds, frontline health care workers; and d. Contact tracers.
  3. In light of surges in many states and Dr. Fauci’s predictions about the potential for these surges to spiral out of control, will the Administration reconsider its stance on using the Defense Production Act? Under what threshold of cases will the Administration deem necessary to use the DPA to manufacture testing supplies, PPE, and other essential medical equipment?
  4. How has the Administration factored in racial disparities into its understanding of the recent surge in COVID-19 cases and potential predictions for further surges?

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