Peters & Murray Press Trump Administration to Report Key Metrics on Tests and Equipment in Coronavirus Response

Senators Call for Transparency to Assess Administration’s Pandemic Response & Ensure Resources are Effectively Distributed across the Country

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, called on the Trump Administration to publicly report to Congress and the American people a list of critical metrics on the COVID-19 response. Peters and Murray are requesting the Administration make information about nationwide testing capacity, hospital bed space, personal protective equipment inventories, and more publicly available to improve transparency and efficiency in Coronavirus response efforts. In a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, the Senators argued that transparency and openness will help to build public trust and confidence in the Administration’s response to the crisis and allow the public health experts to assess the effectiveness of the government’s actions and make quick adjustments to meet changing demands.

“These metrics will allow Congress and the public to assess critical supply chain issues and ensure that the funds are effectively distributed to states, territories, and other federal partners as we combat the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Senators wrote. “Today’s statistics will determine tomorrow’s actions. We must make informed, evidence-based decisions as we continue to fight this pandemic.”

In public health crises, transparency and effective public health communication are vital in reducing panic and assuring citizens that the government is taking the necessary steps to respond effectively. Increased transparency on key metrics would allow Congress and the American people to monitor the Administration’s Coronavirus response, examine what steps have been effective and determine what additional actions are needed to respond to the pandemic. This more transparent approach would help to ensure the United States is building the surge capacity necessary to care for all Americans in need of medical care – and improve accountability for any shortcomings in the Administration’s response.

 

Text of the letter is copied below and available here:

 

 

March 20, 2020

The Honorable Mike Pence
Vice President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. Vice President:

We have noted the Administration’s announcements in recent days regarding additional measures to combat the spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). We must be vigilant in our response to this pandemic and ensure we build the surge capacity necessary to care for all people, from frontline health care workers to patients. To do so requires accountability and transparency. 

We are calling on you to publicly report to Congress and the American people a list of critical metrics surrounding COVID-19 response. These metrics can be used to assess if steps currently being taken to combat this pandemic are effective, or if we need to implement alternative solutions. To ensure Congress and the public have access to this critical information, broken out by U.S. state and territory, please identify critical metrics to report by one week from today.  These metrics should include at minimum:

  • The number of COVID-19 diagnostic tests conducted each day by public health, commercial, and academic laboratories in the United States,;
  • The number of positive COVID-19 cases;
  • The number of negative COVID-19 cases;
  • The number of pending COVID-19 tests;
  • The number of inconclusive COVID-19 tests;
  • Non-Intensive Care Unit (ICU) hospital beds, ICU beds, and beds in any other facilities appropriate for COVID-19 treatment available;
  • Non-ICU hospital beds, ICU beds, and beds in any other facilities appropriate for COVID-19 treatment in-use;
  • For personal protective equipment (including, without limitation, respirators, surgical masks, gowns, face shields, eye protection, and gloves):
    • Outstanding requests to the federal government;
    • Amount the federal government has on hand; and
    • Amount currently in the process of being manufactured or procured;
  • For ventilators:
    • Outstanding requests to the federal government;
    • Amount the federal government has on hand; and
    • Amount currently in the process of being manufactured or procured;
  • Supply reserves in the Strategic National Stockpile;
  • Available military health care professionals; and
  • The number of U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps members currently deployed to assist states and localities with the COVID-19 response and the number of such members available to be deployed.

In addition, with respect to all emergency funding provided by Congress for COVID-19, please report by account and on a weekly basis, the status of all monies appropriated by Congress to combat COVID-19. 

Should any of the information requested above reveal national security sensitive information, we request a separate report (appropriately classified) directly to Congress.

These metrics will allow Congress and the public to assess critical supply chain issues and ensure that the funds are effectively distributed to states, territories, and other federal partners as we combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s statistics will determine tomorrow’s actions. We must make informed, evidence-based decisions as we continue to fight this pandemic. We look forward to working with you and senior Administration officials on this matter going forward.

 

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