Senator Raises Lack of Cartridges for New Abbott Tests in Call with New England FEMA
WASHINGTON – In a call with FEMA Region 1 officials today, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan raised concerns that while the administration recently shipped New Hampshire, and other New England states, 15 new COVID-19 rapid testing machines, the administration only shipped 120 cartridges that can be used for one test each.
At the beginning of the call, FEMA officials encouraged hospitals to use their normal supply chains to receive testing materials, to which Senator Hassan responded, “That begs the question that we’re all grappling with -- for a lot of our hospitals and our public health labs, their normal distribution chains are overwhelmed and they don’t have access. They can put an order in but they’re not getting these cartridges. So what are you doing to increase the supply of cartridges?”
Senator Hassan also raised the lack of transparent communication from FEMA to New Hampshire and hospitals. “One of the really lacking things here is that people don’t understand what the process is, how you are making your prioritizations… can you address the transparency issue and then whether FEMA can do more to really take control of expanding production of testing kits?”
While FEMA Region 1 officials discussed current efforts to address the supply chain issues and accelerate the production and distribution of testing kits, they could not answer how New Hampshire and other states will actually get tests.
Senator Hassan underscored the need for urgent action: “FEMA and the federal government need to come into this and take control and be transparent about how they are prioritizing supplies… This is just all a real concern about what feels on the ground to my constituents as a Wild West approach to getting necessary, life-saving equipment.”
Widespread access to testing is key to reopening the economy and addressing this pandemic, and today’s call with FEMA was part of Senator Hassan’s ongoing efforts to push the administration to ramp up the production and distribution of COVID-19 tests as well as necessary medical supplies. Earlier today, Senator Hassan and the New Hampshire Congressional Delegation requested rapid assistance to ensure New Hampshire health care providers have the supplies needed to address the surge of COVID-19 cases the state is experiencing. Governor Sununu also joined the New Hampshire Congressional delegation in urging President Trump to take additional action to swiftly get critical medical supplies such as personal protective equipment, swabs for diagnostic testing, and ventilators to New Hampshire.