A Press Release from Congress member TJ Cox
White House plan to ease social distancing based on conjectural data would endanger low-income, rural communities
On Thursday, Rep. TJ Cox (CA-21) and Rep. Norma Torres (CA-35) led their colleagues in warning the Trump administration that it lacks the COVID-19 test data needed to implement its planned county-by-county risk classification.
They are joined by their California Delegation colleagues Reps. Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Jared Huffman (CA-2), Judy Chu (CA-27), Pete Aguilar (CA-31), Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19).
The Trump administration plans to ease social distancing guidance based on county-by-county risk designations, despite the fact that the country is far from having robust testing data. Prematurely easing guidelines would harm our ability to combat coronavirus and endanger lives. This will squander the progress and sacrifices Americans have made as well as prolong this health and economic crisis.
Key excerpt from letter:
We are particularly concerned that low-income and rural communities, which face unique challenges to testing, will suffer from misclassification in designations that are meant to inform social distancing guidelines. Facilities that serve underrepresented populations, like community health centers, have reported significant financial losses and supply shortages, which may prevent these facilities from testing everyone in need. Further, low-income individuals may not seek testing out of fear of other associated medical costs, especially if they are uninsured, and individuals in rural areas may be unable to reach testing sites given an already low number of health care facilities in their areas.
The letter also asks whether the Administration would use the risk classification to determine how federal resources are allocated, which could harm communities with high COVID-19 rates that don’t have access to testing.
Rep. Cox (CA-21), who represents many of the Central Valley’s disadvantaged rural communities, released the following statement:
“Clearly, the U.S. doesn’t have the testing infrastructure to gauge how widespread COVID-19 is, which is worsened by the lack of data on a county by county level. We cannot use incomplete and inaccurate data in matters of life or death. Period,” Rep Cox said. “I challenge the Administration to commit to, at the very least, widespread testing access, before implementing a system. I look forward to hearing their answers.”