U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist has called for drive-through coronavirus testing in a letter sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The letter addressed Thursday to CDC Director Robert Redfield also asks for the agency to provide direction on who needs testing and to make use of every qualified lab available.
“Floridians are seeing efficient, effective coronavirus tests around the world, while Americans experiencing symptoms cannot get tested here at home,” Crist wrote in a news release. “Tom Hanks was diagnosed with coronavirus in Australia where testing is free and widely available. He would not have met CDC criteria for a test in America. It’s outrageous.”
“Every day we get this wrong is a day that Americans are less safe. Let’s get it right. Let people get tested.”
The U.S. has about 1,663 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus among more than 128,000 worldwide as of Thursday afternoon. So far, 4,720 people have died, including 40 in the U.S.
Crist said the country’s ability to quickly administer tests is “unacceptable,” and claimed delays will “put more people unnecessarily at risk.”
“The United States ranks among the very worst in the world in per capita testing rates,” Crist wrote.
Crist claimed South Korea and Italy had higher per capita testing rates than the U.S.
“The American people cannot and will not accept these delays any longer, particularly when they witness, effective, efficient testing taking place in other advanced countries,” Crist wrote. “I look forward to your swift and decisive action.”
Florida has 30 positive cases of the coronavirus, which causes the respiratory disease known as COVID-19. Two people have died in the state.
Crist sent a letter to the CDC and to the Food and Drug Administration last week, calling for the agencies to work together to expedite the coronavirus testing process.
The Democratic representative also suggested private labs should be able to test people for the coronavirus.
On Feb. 29, the Department of Health and Human Services issued rules to speed up the approval process for commercial, research and academic labs. As of Tuesday, there are 79 state and local public health labs in the U.S. that are verified and using COVID-19 diagnostic tests.
On Wednesday, Crist wrote to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer suggesting additional provisions to bolster the upcoming coronavirus response package.