Washington, D.C. (WOWK) – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) spoke to Dr. Stephen Hahn, the Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about the urgent need for COVID-19 testing in West Virginia hospitals.
Manchin also urged the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec to provide personal protective equipment which includes gloves, gowns, face shields and masks, to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources for the coronavirus outbreak response.
“Dr. Hahn committed to me that he will do everything in his power to ensure West Virginians have access to the testing equipment necessary to curb the rapid spread of the COVID-19 outbreak and protect our brave healthcare professionals who are fighting this virus on the front lines,” Manchin said. “As of yesterday, West Virginia had conducted only 84 tests and had only 500 tests available. I am hearing from West Virginians across the state about being denied testing despite having physical symptoms. This is unacceptable and I am glad Dr. Hahn committed to rectifying this situation quickly. Medical professionals, community leaders and so many others are also reporting a shortage of the equipment they need to do their jobs safely. I urged HHS Secretary Azar and Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Kadlec to send more PPEs from the federal stockpile to West Virginia so our public health professionals are adequately prepared for this virus. No state is more at risk than West Virginia. We cannot afford to let this deadly disease get a foothold in West Virginia, which is why I have requested these measures from our federal agencies.”
West Virginia is home to the highest percentage of adults 18 and older at higher risk of serious illness if infected with COVID-19 with 734,590 people. That’s more than half of the population. West Virginia is also home to the highest percentage of adults under the age of 60 at higher risk of serious illness if infected with Coronavirus with 233,150 people or one-fourth of our population, and over 500,000 adults over the age of 60.
Senator Manchin continues to urge West Virginians to contact him if they are having trouble accessing COVID-19 testing or the necessary equipment to keep our healthcare professionals safe so he can continue to relay this information to the appropriate federal officials. West Virginians can email their concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 304-342-5855.
Senator Manchin also sent letters to Vice President Mike Pence and the coronavirus task force expressing his concerns about nursing homes during the COVID-19 outbreak and home and community services throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. The Senator requested information on steps that are being taken to protect nursing home residents, staff and their families. He also urged the Administration to outline its plans for ensuring that older adults who receive services like delivered meals and home care in their homes and communities through their local Area Agencies on Aging, senior centers and other community organizations will remain safe from the virus.
Senator Manchin launched an information resources page where West Virginians can learn more about the coronavirus outbreak and how to protect themselves and their families. To learn more please click here.