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GOP Lawmakers Express Frustration with President Trump, C.D.C. over Coronavirus Testing Capabilities

U.S. Senator James Lankford (R-OK) speaks with reporters as he arrives for the weekly Republican senate caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. January 4, 2018. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Senator James Lankford (R., Ok.) on Thursday said President Trump “should stop saying” that anyone who wants to be tested for the Wuhan coronavirus can get tested.

“That is not accurate right now,” Lankford told CNN. “People should stop saying if you want a test, you should get a test right now. That’s not here at this point”

Representative Mark Walker (R., N.C.) on Thursday said lawmakers have become increasingly frustrated with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s response to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

There is “a growing frustration among members as a whole to get more definitive answers” from the CDC regarding testing capabilities for the illness, Walker said. The representative had just emerged from a bipartisan briefing by the CDC.

“We have a serious deficiency in being prepared for testing,” Senator Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) said. “South Korea, for example, is doing a better job. We not only need a better system for later. We need a better system for now, and we’re going to focus on that as rapidly as we can.”

When CDC officials were asked why the U.S. had not been able to make testing readily available like in South Korea, the officials “struggled to give a really strong answer,” Walker said.

“There’s questions that haven’t been answered,” commented Senator Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), an ally of President Trump, after the briefing. “And until I get answers I don’t want to make a judgment on whether or not I’m satisfied.”

Senator Mitt Romney (R., Utah) concurred.

“The explanation is not satisfactory,” Romney said. “The point is made that we have a system that relies upon the private sector. That there have been difficulties…but of course expectations have not been met.”

South Korea has announced the ability to carry out 15,000 tests for the Wuhan coronavirus per day, while testing is also widely available in Australia. On Monday, CDC Director Robert Redfield said government labs in the U.S. have tested 4,900 people since the start of the outbreak.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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