January 19, 2022

Gillibrand, Colleagues Call On Biden Administration To Mobilize COVID Assistance To New York

Amidst a surge of COVID hospitalizations and deaths in New York, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined 12 of her colleagues in writing a letter to President Biden urging the administration to provide more COVID rapid testing kits for New York State. The letter calls on the administration to provide adequate rapid testing supplies to slow the spread of COVID-19 and emphasizes the need to ensure that tests are free and available to all those who need them. 

“We are writing to respectfully ask that your Administration provide the necessary COVID-19 rapid test kits to help our state battle this latest surge in COVID-19 cases and provide guidance that ensures school communities are safe,” wrote the lawmakers. “The need for COVID-19 rapid test kits in New York is palpable. Rapid COVID-19 tests provide New Yorkers not only with the ability to test in the comfort of their own home, but also help alleviate the hours-long lines seen at brick and mortar and mobile testing sites since late December. Without an adequate supply of COVID-19 rapid test kits, our efforts to limit the spread of the virus are compromised and all but ensure continued surges and loss. We further emphasize the need to ensure at-home tests are made available free of charge to remove barriers that may otherwise prevent people from receiving the care they need and keeping our communities healthy and safe.”

 

The letter was also signed by Representatives Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Grace Meng (NY-06), Brian Higgins (NY-26), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Thomas R. Suozzi (NY-03), Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Gregory Meeks (NY-05), and Mondaire Jones (NY-17).

The full text of the letter can be found here or below: 

 

Dear President Biden,

Thank you for your continued leadership to meaningfully address the COVID-19 pandemic. Your Administration’s announcement to purchase an additional 500 million COVID-19 tests to distribute to Americans for free comes at a dire time where it is clear the pandemic is not behind us. We are writing to respectfully ask that your Administration provide the necessary COVID-19 rapid test kits to help our state battle this latest surge in COVID-19 cases and provide guidance that ensures school communities are safe.

The toll of COVID-19 is far-reaching in our state where we have lost more than 62,000 New Yorkers, the COVID-19 positivity rate is 18 percent, and the number of children hospitalized due to COVID-19 rose from 85 at the start of December to 571 in early January. With the rapid spread of the virus comes increased demand for COVID-19 testing. At-home COVID-19 testing kits have also become scarce at pharmacies, forcing New Yorkers to wait in long lines at testing sites.

The need for COVID-19 rapid test kits in New York is palpable. Rapid COVID-19 tests provide New Yorkers not only with the ability to test in the comfort of their own home, but also help alleviate the hours-long lines seen at brick and mortar and mobile testing sites since late December. Without an adequate supply of COVID-19 rapid test kits, our efforts to limit the spread of the virus are compromised and all but ensure continued surges and loss. We further emphasize the need to ensure at-home tests are made available free of charge to remove barriers that may otherwise prevent people from receiving the care they need and keeping our communities healthy and safe.

Additionally, we support providing COVID-19 rapid test kits that are accompanied with translations and other supporting information for accurate use which will help ensure New York schools can open safely. For our school communities to be healthy and safe for everyone, we further encourage your administration to issue guidance that complements rapid test kits such that when a student tests positive for COVID-19, it is always communicated to the school and that the student quarantines at home. At this time, testing of our students is limited and we need to make every effort to prioritize and protect the health and well-being of everyone who is a part of our school communities. We appreciate your Administration’s commitment to increase the number of COVID-19 rapid test kits available to schools by 10 million per month. Building on your successes in the fight against the virus, everyone who calls New York home must have access to a sufficient number of COVID-19 rapid tests to meet the demands of the Omicron surge.

 Thank you again for your leadership to address the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to continuing to work with you to defeat this virus.