U.S. Still Lacks Sufficient Number of Coronavirus Tests, Ousted HHS Whistleblower Rick Bright Testifies

Rick Bright (left), former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, arrives at a hearing on the Trump administration’s coronavirus response on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., May 14, 2020. (Erin Scott/Reuters)

Rick Bright, the ousted Health and Human Services official who testified Thursday to Congress that the Trump administration was not prepared for the coronavirus pandemic, told lawmakers that the country still does not have enough coronavirus tests.

Bright was asked by Representative Debbie Dingell to weigh in on the administration’s claim that anyone who wants to can get tested for the coronavirus.

“The administration said anybody who wants a test will get a test. Was that true then?” the Michigan Democrat asked Bright during Thursday’s House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing.

“There still are not enough tests,” Bright responded.

“So even this week as we’re being told anybody who wants a test can have a test, is that true in the United States of America?” Dingell pressed.

“No,” Bright responded flatly.

Bright claimed he was fired from his roles as deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response at HHS and director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority after he criticized “efforts to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections.”

According to Bright, he was subsequently “involuntarily transferred to a more limited and less impactful position at the National Institutes of Health.”

Bright also warned during the hearing that the nation could see “the darkest winter in modern history” without a better response to the pandemic than the actions already taken by the administration, which he said lacks a “standard, centralized, coordinated plan.”

The administration’s early attempts at widespread testing were plagued by logistical difficulties as medical testing companies admitted they became overwhelmed with a backlog of tests to analyze, forcing patients and doctors to wait to obtain a test. Early rounds of test kits distributed by the CDC were defective, causing further delays in testing capacity that continued until the virus was already widespread around the country.

Trump dismissed Bright’s testimony, saying he “looks like an angry disgruntled employee who, frankly, according to some people, didn’t do a very good job.”

Mairead McArdle is a news writer for National Review Online and a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College.

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