WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer and Sen. Patty Murray have led 48 other lawmakers to have the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention distribute rapid diagnostic tests to state and local health officials in states with confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
The letter written and signed by Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, and Murray, D-Seattle, was addressed to Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the CDC’s director.
The letter acknowledges the CDC’s leadership in addressing the coronavirus, which began in Wuhan, China.
While the risk of the disease spreading in the United States is low, according to the CDC, Kilmer and Murray agree with the assessment that local and state health jurisdictions need to have the tools available to detect and react to confirmed cases.
The legislators urged the CDC to prioritize those areas, of which Washington state is one.
“CDC’s response to this outbreak underscores the critical role it plays in protecting public health. Furthermore, it is a notable scientific achievement that CDC was able to develop a rapid diagnostic test for this novel virus just one week after publication of the viral genome sequence.
“This test has enabled health officials across the country to distinguish positive cases of this novel virus from other respiratory illnesses, allowing them to isolate patients to prevent further spread of the virus and deploy their resources where they are needed most,” read the letter.
Currently, any patient samples are taken to Atlanta to be tested by the CDC.
The letter stipulated that the amount of time it takes to ship the samples and have them tested drastically increases the time it takes for local and state health officials to confirm cases, increasing the likelihood of spread.
“As the number of suspected cases rises, this will become an unsustainable bottleneck in the diagnostic pipeline that could hinder efforts to stop the spread of this disease. Therefore, CDC must continue to work quickly to distribute the rapid diagnostic test to state and local health official,” the letter says.