Maloney criticizes late federal response on coronavirus testing

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney chided the Trump administration on Friday for taking too long to make and distribute the huge volume of test kits that medical labs and facilities will need to identify coronavirus cases as COVID-19 spreads in New York and across the U.S.

Speaking at a press conference in Goshen, the Cold Spring Democrat said he was frustrated that the administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “have been too slow in the development and the dissemination of the test kits so that we can do the testing at greater scale, which of course allows us to do better tracing and to do better containment efforts.”

Maloney was speaking after a panel discussion at the Orange County Emergency Services Center at which medical professionals and county officials from Orange and Dutchess counties talked about ways they are preparing for the inevitable arrival of COVID-19 and recommended a measured approach to the outbreak. No patients in either county had tested positive yet for the virus.

During the panel discussion, Maloney praised the $8.3 billion just approved by Congress and President Trump to track and contain COVID-19, but said testing kits need to be more widely available and CDC needs to disseminate more guidance, particularly to those caring for vulnerable populations.

“We need to understand exactly what the path to a vaccine is and a realistic time frame for that,” he added. “We need to have better information on the mortality rates because you hear widely divergent information on that.”

Maloney told reporters later that the CDC has now “gotten out of the way” so that public and private institutions can begin producing test kits more quickly. “The vice president has made pronouncements about this that have not been fully accurate, but the direction is correct,” he said. “It just needs to happen faster.”

Flanked by two Republican county executives and two assemblymen from different parties, the Democratic congressman said the outbreak requires White House leadership and shouldn’t be a political issue.

“But setting the politics aside,” Maloney said, “it is important that the White House communicate the seriousness of this, that they coordinate the federal response and that they disseminate the resources effectively and efficiently that have been made available by the Congress so that we’re doing what we need to do when we can do some good.”

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