August 31,2020

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Wyden Calls for Action on Testing Supply Shortages in Rural Oregon

Amid Pandemic, Too Many Oregon Hospitals Cannot Test at Capacity Due to Lack of Raw Materials

Wyden Calls for Robust Use of Defense Production Act by Trump Administration to Get Needed Supplies to Health Care Providers

Washington, D.C. – Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today called on the Trump administration to mobilize the resources of the federal government to ensure health care providers in Oregon and across the country have the supplies they need to conduct COVID-19 tests at capacity.

“Despite warnings of the hardships rural medical providers would face, frontline hospitals, clinics and local and regional laboratories in small Oregon communities remain unable to obtain testing reagents and other critical supplies six months into the pandemic,” Wyden wrote. “The worsening reagent shortages in Oregon are the latest evidence that the Trump administration has used its Defense Production Act powers more for show than effect. I urge the Trump administration to use all its DPA authorities to the fullest extent to increase production of testing reagents and other supplies and speed up delivery to meet the needs of rural communities.” 

In the letter, sent to Vice President Mike Pence and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, Wyden noted that hospitals around the state have testing machines, but not the materials needed to operate them. In some cases this leads to a weeklong delay of test results, while in some rural areas, machines are underutilized or even idle.

Wyden asked the Trump administration to present a plan to correct this shortage, including how DPA will be utilized to mobilize the private sector to help rural communities. Wyden also requested plans from the administration on accounting for increased testing capacity as a result of school re-openings, routine medical care and the upcoming flu season.

The full letter can be found here.