Schatz Criticizes Federal Response To Coronavirus, Seeks Test Kits From Japan

Feb 24, 2020

Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz says the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak has fallen far short and he is working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Japan embassy to see if that country can provide coronavirus test kits to Hawaii. 

The CDC had distributed kits to state authorities across the country, but those kits were found to be defective.

In an interview last week with HPR, Schatz said new kits will likely not be ready until mid-March, leading his office to explore the possibility of obtaining several kits from the Japanese government.

“The CDC is trying to determine whether the standards are the same,” Schatz said, “so that may be a workaround in the short run.”

The Democratic senator said that he was not satisfied with the federal government’s response to the outbreak and described a Trump Administration proposal to slash the CDC’s budget as “an out of control bad idea.”

Schatz instead praised the work of local health authorities, whom he said have stepped in where federal officials have failed.

He said the situation is starting to cost the state of Hawaii real money, which he has called for the federal government to reimburse.

“This is a federal role and the federal government should reimburse our state and local government,” Schatz said.

According to Schatz, there are several possible funding sources, although it is still unclear if Congress and the Department of Health and Human Services will make reimbursement funds available.

Listen to the full interview with Sen. Brian Schatz below covering issues that include the upcoming 2020 Census, climate change, and his experience during the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.