Politics GOP senators press for answers on testing shortages despite 'ample' funding
Fauci on lack of tests during holiday season: 'We've got to do better'
The White House's chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci said on Sunday that the U.S. has to do better when it comes to testing options being more widely available in the country. When asked by ABC News's "This Week" co-anchor Jonathan Karl if the lack of testing options many Americans are experiencing over the holiday season frustrates him, Fauci responded that, "Well, obviously it does.""I mean, if you look at the beginning of the administration, the beginning of the year, there were essentially no rapid point of care home tests available. Now, there are over nine of them and more coming," he added.
Two top Republican senators are calling on the Biden administration to provide answers about how it has spent billions of dollars in testing funds for COVID-19 amid shortages in such tests across the country.
Pharmacies sold out of rapid tests, and long lines at testing sites have sprung up in the last month amid holiday travel and a massive surge in cases fueled by the omicron variant.
Sen. Richard Burr (N.C.), the top Republican on the Senate's health committee, and Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.), the top Republican on the Appropriations health subcommittee, to ask why there are shortages despite the billions approved by Congress since 2020 that were specified for increased testing.
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The senators pointed to $34.8 billion for testing across five bipartisan packages in 2020, and another $47.8 billion from Democrats' American Rescue Plan in 2021.
"With over $82.6 billion specifically appropriated for testing, and flexibility within the Department to allocate additional funds from COVID-19 supplemental bills or annual appropriations if necessary, it is unclear to us why we are facing such dire circumstances now," the senators write. "It does not appear to be because of lack of funding, but a more fundamental lack of strategy and a failure to anticipate future testing needs by the administration."
Health experts to do more to make rapid tests free and widely available.
Late last month, the administration took action on that front, announcing the purchase of 500 million rapid tests to be made available for free to Americans who order them online. The tests are set to become available this month. Experts have pushed for further action given the U.S. population of 330 million, saying that 500 million tests are far from enough.
The senators are seeking information from Becerra about how much funding for testing remains unused, as well as a breakdown of how congressional funding for tests has been spent so far.
Exclusive: Biden sending medical teams to six states to help hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19 .
The federal government is sending teams to New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, Michigan and New Mexico to help hospitals overwhelmed by COVID.President Joe Biden is expected to announce the deployments Thursday when discussing steps the administration is taking to address a surge in infections driven by the omicron variant, according to a White House official.