Lawmakers Unveil COVID-19 Testing Inventory Legislation in Both House, Senate

WASHINGTON, D.C. [05/15/20]—This week U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced their COVID-19 Testing Inventory Act, which directs Federal agencies to compile and publicly share real-time information about testing supply inventory and shortages. U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo (D-Calif. 18) introduced companion legislation in the House today.

Since President Trump declared the COVID-19 outbreak a national emergency, state departments of health, Indian Tribes, hospitals, health care providers, and first responders have lacked tests and supplies—including personal protective equipment (PPE), testing swabs, and reagents—needed to conduct adequate public health surveillance to contain and stop the spread of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 Testing Inventory Act would call on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in consultation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Indian Health Service (IHS) to publicly provide information such as the supply of diagnostic tests available nationally, and distribution of tests by location.

“The United States needs a centralized, public-facing national testing inventory,” said Sen. Smith. “Right now, there’s an alarming lack of transparency when it comes to how many tests we have on hand and where they’re being sent. And that's leaving communities all across the country in the dark, wondering if and when they're going to get supplies. This is not how we should be operating to fight a pandemic. I'm going to work to move this bill forward."

“It’s no secret that the U.S. missed its chance to control COVID-19 through early testing. But the Trump Administration still cannot seem to get its act together to put in place widespread diagnostic testing to contain the virus,” said Sen. Warren. “Our bill will provide the data and transparency we need to conduct aggressive oversight and hold the federal government accountable for its national testing strategy.”

“Testing is the most important tool we have to track and contain the spread of coronavirus, but public health officials and the American people still don’t have a full picture of what tests are available and where,” said Rep. Eshoo. “This legislation creates a centralized, publicly accessible inventory of our nation’s testing capabilities so every American knows where they can get tested for COVID-19.”

In addition to Sens. Smith and Warren, the COVID-19 Testing Inventory Act is supported by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Gary Peters (Mich.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

You can read bill text here.

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