WASHINGTON – Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Subcommittee on Health, issued the following statement Wednesday on the passage of the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 6074).

Rep. Doris Matsui

The House passed an $8.3 billion emergency supplemental funding bill to address the coronavirus outbreak and protect Americans from the current public health crisis.

“In the face of crisis, the federal government must act swiftly and decisively to protect American families,” said Matsui. “This means a robust, coordinated, and comprehensive effort to put resources in the hands of medical providers and our local partners working to save lives.

“The initial response of the White House simply did not go far enough to protect Americans. With this bill, Congress is taking action to ensure a strong emergency funding package that addresses the scale and seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“This legislation contains billions for development of new treatments, purchasing supplies, and local support. Importantly, this bill will expand the use of telehealth so patients can consult with doctors remotely, limiting spread and exposure to the virus – a provision I pushed to include.

“We cannot afford to drag our feet responding to this crisis. It is now up to the Senate and president to act quickly – we must protect American lives.”

A summary of H.R. 6074 can be found here: https://appropriations.house.gov/sites/democrats.appropriations.house.gov/files/Coronavirus%20Supp%20Summary%203.4.20.pdf

The full text of H.R. 6074 can be found here: https://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20200302/BILLS-116hr6074-SUS.pdf

Letter to Pence

On Feb. 28, Matsui sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert R. Redfield expressing concerns about the delay in testing for a coronavirus patient at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.

On Feb. 26, the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Subcommittee on Health held a hearing with top public health officials, including Azar, Redfield and National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, to provide oversight on the administration’s efforts to address the coronavirus outbreak and update recommendations for coordinating future detection and response efforts.

The text of the letter follows:

“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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