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Coronavirus: Capitol Hill doctor says he doesn’t have enough tests to screen all 100 Senators

Republican leaders were told last week that some senators returnning next week will not be able to recieve Covid-19 testing

Gino Spocchia
Friday 01 May 2020 14:38 BST
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Senators returning to work in Washington DC on Monday will find that not all 100 members of the US Congress’s upper house will be able to receive a coronavirus test.

According to The Capitol’s attending physician on Thursday, there are only enough tests available to test staffers and senators who are ill.

Anyone who does not show symptoms when the Senate chamber comes back into session next week will not be proactively tested for the Covid-19 virus.

Congressional doctor Brian Monahan confirmed the situation in a telephone call to senior Republican officials on Thursday, Politico reported.

Dr. Monahan told GOP leaders on the call that he did not have supplies of the instant 15 minute tests used inside the White House.

Instead, Congress’s coronavirus tests would take almost seven business days before results were confirmed.

“My test result can take between two and seven business days to resolve,” said Dr. Monahan, according to Axios sources.

He added that senators tested for Covid-19 would need to be “in a quarantine or isolated situation” until the test result came back.

Around half of the Senate’s members are aged 65 or older, placing them at increased risk for the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has maintained that the Senate can operate safely amid the pandemic with proper social distancing and face coverings.

The scheduled return of the Senate on Monday comes after more than a month away, but Democrats doubt whether or not it is safe return.

“I have not yet seen, personally … a safety plan to protect those people who have to come back to the Capitol in order for us to do anything,” Senator Patty Murray told Politico on Wednesday.

He added: “Nor a plan to make sure that we are not spreading the virus ourselves or to the employees”.

The 435-member House of Representatives had planned to return to the Capitol on May 4, but Democratic leaders cancelled the return after consulting Congress doctors.

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