Now even some major Democrats are becoming disenchanted with the administration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in how it has handled the COVID-19 pandemic.
A group of five Democrat senators, namely Sens. Jacky Rosen of Nevada, Mark Kelly of Arizona, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Jon Ossoff of Georgia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona sent a letter to COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients asking “why the Administration failed to take more significant steps earlier to increase access to at-home tests,” The New York Post reported.
“Across America, there are lines for city blocks long to get COVID testing, signs in pharmacies saying they are out of rapid tests, hospitals operating under crisis standards of care, health care staff and first responders falling ill, and millions of people who are exhausted from the toll this pandemic has had,” the Democrat senators said.
“While we fully recognize the productive steps this Administration has taken to encourage vaccination, ensure ready access to vaccines, and increase options to treat the virus, far too many measures – such as increasing access to home-based testing – have been reactive, rather than proactive,” they said.
The senators said “[t]his Administration either knew or should have known that testing shortages were occurring across the country over the past several months, and with the full expectation that the virus would likely mutate into a new variant steps to increase testing access should have happened before the current wave hit, not several weeks into the surge, with resources still not available until later this month or beyond.”
On Friday, the White House issued a statement announcing that Americans could finally begin ordering tests through a government website on Jan. 19 — but would have to wait another 7-12 days before actually receiving them.
In addition to the lack of tests, the senators also said they wanted Zients to “address the steps you have taken to prepare the country for the increase in cases” as well as “how you plan to mitigate the impact of the current and future variants moving forward.”
The letter concluded by calling on Zients to explain what the administration did to boost testing capacity after the discovery of Omicron in late November, what is being done “to shorten wait times and improve testing availability” at federally-run sites stood up by the White House last month, and how the “gap in public health data” due to the increase in at-home testing is being addressed.
The president campaigned on a promise of being able to help stop the COVID-19 pandemic but thus far has been unsuccessful.
The White House issued a fact sheet on its website insisting that free tests would be available for Americans starting this week.
“To help ensure Americans have tests on hand if a need arises, the Biden Administration is purchasing one billion at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests to give to Americans for free. A half-billion tests will be available for order on January 19th and will be mailed directly to American households,” the administration said.
“There will be free tests available for every household, and to promote broad access, the initial program will allow four free tests to be requested per residential address. Starting January 19th, Americans will be able to order their tests online at COVIDTests.gov, and tests will typically ship within 7-12 days of ordering.
“To ensure equity and access for all Americans, the Administration will also launch a call line to help those unable to access the website to place orders, and work with national and local community-based organizations to support the nation’s hardest-hit and highest-risk communities in requesting tests,” it said.