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April 17, 2020

Chairman Thompson Statement After Committee Briefed by FEMA Administrator Gaynor

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, released the following statement after members of the Committee were briefed by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Peter Gaynor and Department of Health and Human Services Director of the Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy Dr. Tammy Beckham on the Federal government's coronavirus response efforts:

“We are eternally grateful for the thousands of women and men at FEMA for their hard work during this crisis.  It is unimaginable that the country would ever face disaster declarations in every state, territory, and the District of Columbia.

“However, we still have questions on the Federal government’s ability to meet the demand for testing. We know we need widespread testing – much more than the current rate of one million per week – before we are to reopen the country and move forward.  We cannot dump this responsibility on the states, so the Administration must step up.

“FEMA is clearly trying a lot of different strategies to move supplies and equipment, but we’re still concerned the Administration is not getting these supplies and equipment where they are needed most.  We continue to hear reports on the ground of shortages of PPE, alleged seizures of supplies, and states being forced to compete with each other and the Federal government to get equipment.

“With the start of hurricane season being only six weeks away, we are concerned about the ability of FEMA to accomplish its mission on multiple fronts. FEMA is clearly going to have to change its emergency response operations to be able to handle natural disasters while still handling a pandemic response.”

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