Why Pelosi and McConnell Declined Rampant Coronavirus Testing for Congress

Posted: May 03, 2020 9:40 AM
Why Pelosi and McConnell Declined Rampant Coronavirus Testing for Congress

Source: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Saturday declined the Trump administration's offer to offer widespread Wuhan coronavirus testing on Capitol Hill. 

“Congress is grateful for the Administration’s generous offer to deploy rapid COVID-19 testing capabilities to Capitol Hill, but we respectfully decline the offer at this time," the duo said in a joint statement. "Our country’s testing capacities are continuing to scale up nationwide and Congress wants to keep directing resources to the front-line facilities where they can do the most good the most quickly."

“Consistent with CDC guidelines, Congress will use the current testing protocols that the Office of the Attending Physician has put in place until these speedier technologies become more widely available," they said.

After going back-and-forth, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) decided it was best for the House not to return to session this week. Hoyer cited an increase in coronavirus cases in the Washington, D.C. metro area as his reasoning.

The Senate, however, will be back in session on Monday. McConnell and his team received guidance from the Office of the Attending Physician.

Dr. Brian Monahan recommended "Senate offices install barriers or cough shields in common areas and also implement motion sensors to open doors. There was also advice about laying out plans for 'one-way primary circulation paths to avoid bottlenecks in hallways and passageways where possible,'" Fox News reported. 

According to a statement from McConnell, Dr. Monahan's office supplied additional guidelines, including "self-screening procedures" senators should carry out each morning and how to adjust staffing levels to limit potential exposure.

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