Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut has revealed that officials within the Trump administration declined a much earlier offer for congressional funding.
Murphy states that he and other senators offered funding back on February 5, during a meeting on the coronavirus. Murphy says that top officials in Trump’s administration including Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told them that they “didn’t need emergency funding, that they would be able to handle it within existing appropriations.”
Murphy revealed the situation during an interview on Yahoo News’ “Skullduggery” podcast.
“What an awful, horrible catastrophic mistake that was,” Murphy stated.
Back on Feb. 5, Murphy tweeted: “Just left the Administration briefing on Coronavirus. Bottom line: they aren’t taking this seriously enough. Notably, no request for ANY emergency funding, which is a big mistake. Local health systems need supplies, training, screening staff, etc. And they need it now.”
Murphy went on to state that the funding he and other congressional leaders tried to allocate nearly would have covered essential preventative measures, “including hiring local screening and testing staff, researching a vaccine and treatments and the stockpiling of needed medical supplies.”
“The consequences of that in Connecticut is that we’re going to test fewer people today than we tested yesterday,” Murphy shared. “And that means that there are lots of people who are positive who are not going to know it, who are then going to be in contact with other people, who are going to spread the disease.”
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The state of Connecticut is so undersupplied that state officials had to cut back on tests administered even as the state’s numbers continue to climb.
Murphy shared that Connecticut is having a difficult time trying to get a real supply of re-agents, which are the compounds necessary to run the coronavirus tests. Murphy added that the “whole world was competing for them now.”
He went on to state that he spent several hours on Thursday talking on the phone with lab officials throughout Connecticut that informed him that he cannot administer enough tests because of the shortage of re-agents.
“Had we appropriated money in February to start buying re-agent, we would be in a position to do many more tests today than we are,” Murphy said. ”It was just so clear to us that the administration didn’t think this was going to be a problem. We begged them in that meeting to request emergency funding from the Congress and they told us … that they had everything that they needed on hand, which was false.”
Murphy also stated that the Trump administration’s refusal to accept coronavirus test kits offered by the World Health Organization back in January was a stupid and dangerous decision.
“We didn’t appropriate the dollars necessary to build out the testing infrastructure,” Murphy said.
When asked what he thought was the most important thing Trump could do right now to get the nation to turn the corner and contain the virus. Murphy stated that he needed to rethink his recent assertion that the country can be reopened for business by Easter.
“What I’m most worried about right now is that the president is just going to get sort of tired of these emergency measures,” Murphy said, referring to the social distancing efforts. “The result will be that people will start coming out of their homes and we will end up with a health care system in absolute, catastrophic failure.”