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Patty Murray
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WA Sen. Patty Murray: White House not taking coronavirus response seriously

WA Sen. Patty Murray. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

While many states have begun to relax social distancing measures, Washington Sen. Patty Murray is concerned that the White House isn’t taking the necessary steps to ensure the virus doesn’t rebound in the days ahead.

WA Senators: US ‘not meeting responsibility’ for coronavirus testing

Earlier this week, reports surfaced that the White House coronavirus task force could eventually wind down and disband by the end of May. President Trump later clarified that the task force would instead refocus to reopening the economy.

That said, Murray is concerned the task force may be putting the cart before the horse.

“Our country, our economy, people’s health care, our well-being, all of that depends on our country acting as smart as we can in a very challenging time, and I am very worried that (the White House wants) to dismiss it, move on, and pretend like it didn’t happen,” she told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross.

“It appears again … that they’re not taking this seriously,” she added.

Murray continued to advocate for widely expanded testing infrastructure as a priority as states begin to reopen, while acknowledging that “everybody wants to be back to normal.”

In order to accomplish that safely, though, she pointed out that the United States still needs to be able to track the spread of the virus once people begin returning to work.

“How do we make workplaces as safe as we can, and schools the safest we can?” she posited. “A significant part of that is having enough testing — accurate, rapid, reliable testing, so we have the knowledge to make those decisions.”

President Trump has promised expanded testing for months, claiming in March that “anybody that wants a test can get a test.” That claim has proven to be dubious, with labs like the one at UW Virology still dealing with shortages in crucial supplies like swabs and transport medium.

“I have been angry and frustrated by that,” Murray noted. “We don’t make swabs here in Washington state, so we may have one part of the testing process, but not all of it.”

Expert: US coronavirus testing ‘nowhere near what it needs to be’

While the President has frequently cast the federal government as more of a “backstop” than a primary means of support for testing supplies, states have frequently asked it to assume a larger role.

“I have talked to both our governor and many governors, and they rightfully tell us that they don’t have the supply chain they need to get the adequate testing,” Sen. Murray said. “This takes a national plan.”

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