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Matsui Calls on Vice President, HHS and CDC to Further Expand and Expedite Coronavirus Testing After Patient Diagnosed in Sacramento

Calls on Trump Administration to Direct Emergency Resources to Sacramento Region

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-06) sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert R. Redfield expressing concerns about the delay in testing for a coronavirus patient at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, CA.

Congresswoman Matsui is a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Subcommittee on Health, where on Wednesday, February 26, 2020, members held a hearing with top public health officials including HHS Secretary Azar, National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, and CDC Director Redfield to provide oversight on the Administration’s efforts to address the coronavirus outbreak and update recommendations for coordinating future detection and response efforts.

House Democrats are working to provide new emergency funding for the adequate treatment and prevention of coronavirus and expand testing protocols to protect public health.

Text of the letter is below:

February 28, 2020

The Honorable Michael Pence
Vice President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

The Honorable Alex Azar
Secretary
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20201

Dr. Robert R. Redfield
Director
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30329

Dear Mr. Vice President, Secretary Azar and Director Redfield:

I am writing to express deep concern regarding the delay in testing a patient currently being treated at the University of California-Davis Medical Center for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). To confirm the diagnosis, I understand that UC Davis Medical Center’s only course of action was to request the test from federal public health officials, as local health departments are not allowed to issue tests at this time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) subsequently denied the provider’s immediate request to test for COVID-19 because the patient’s known exposure did not fit existing testing criteria, delaying the critical diagnosis for almost a week.

State public health officials in Sacramento, citing the CDC, are reporting that this case is the first confirmed case of community transmission of the virus. I appreciate CDC’s swift action to change testing criteria to include persons hospitalized with severe acute respiratory illness in response to this case. However, with a confirmed case in our community, my constituents cannot afford any further delays. We must remove remaining barriers to the testing process that do not empower local officials to understand the true prevalence of COVID-19 and hinder our ability to halt the virus’ spread.

Given these pivotal developments, it is imperative that the White House, HHS and CDC further expand and expedite testing protocols and streamline the process for COVID-19 testing across the country. We must equip our local providers with the supplies they need to rapidly test, diagnosis and treat suspected COVID-19 infections. I request that you immediately direct emergency resources to the Sacramento region to support urgent public health protection efforts.

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