HHS making 1K coronavirus tests available as senators return to DC

HHS making 1K coronavirus tests available as senators return to DC
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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is making 1,000 tests available for senators as they return to Washington, D.C. on Monday after Capitol physician Brian Monahan had said earlier in the week that his office did not have the capacity to screen all 100 senators.

Monahan told Senate staff on a conference call Thursday that he didn't have enough tests for all returning senators and that the ones he does have take several days to report results, according to multiple media outlets. The tests HHS is providing report results in minutes and have been used by the White House. 

"Good news: as the Senate reconvenes to do important work for the American people during this public health crisis, we have now received an initial request and are sending 3 Abbott point of care testing machines and 1,000 tests for their use," HHS Secretary Alex Azar tweeted Friday.

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HHS did not immediately respond to an inquiry from The Hill seeking more information on where the tests were allocated from. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoe Arpaio loses bid for his old position as sheriff Trump brushes off view that Russia denigrating Biden: 'Nobody's been tougher on Russia than I have' Trump tees up executive orders on economy but won't sign yet MORE on Saturday insisted there was "tremendous" coronavirus testing capacity for senators and members of Congress, slamming House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocratic convention lineup to include Ocasio-Cortez, Clinton, Warren: reports Trump tees up executive orders on economy but won't sign yet New postmaster general overhauls USPS leadership amid probe into mail delays MORE (D-Calif.) for canceling plans to reconvene her 435-member chamber. House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Negotiators 'far apart' as talks yield little ahead of deadline On The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Overnight Health Care: Ohio governor tests positive for COVID-19 ahead of Trump's visit | US shows signs of coronavirus peak, but difficult days lie ahead | Trump: COVID-19 vaccine may be ready 'right around' Election Day MORE (D-Md.) announced the cancellation Tuesday morning, citing guidance from Monahan. 

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“There is tremendous CoronaVirus testing capacity in Washington for the Senators returning to Capital Hill on Monday. Likewise the House, which should return but isn’t because of Crazy Nancy P. The 5 minute Abbott Test will be used. Please inform Dr. Brian P. Monahan,” Trump tweeted. 

Monahan reportedly told Senate aides about the shortage in a conference call Thursday during which questions were raised about safety precautions being taken before the 100 senators and some staff return to the Capitol. The aides noted that most senators are considered at risk for contracting the coronavirus due to their age.

On Friday, Monahan issued guidance recommending that senators and their staff take several precautions that would allow them to maintain at least six feet of distance.

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTrump-backed Hagerty wins Tennessee GOP Senate primary Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's visit to battleground Ohio overshadowed by coronavirus MORE (R-Ky.) is the only senator known to have tested positive for the coronavirus. However, several members of Congress, Capitol Police officers and congressional staffers have also tested positive.