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CAIR Joins COVID-19 Taskforce in Calling on Trump Administration to Increase Testing Kits, Medical Supplies

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(WASHINGTON, DC., 3/23/20) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today joined fellow members of the Policy Committee of National Muslim COVID-19 Taskforce in sending a pair of letters to Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar calling on the Trump administration to “increase the production and availability of testing kits nationwide and provide more medical resources and personal protective equipment (PPE) for our hospitals and healthcare workforce” by “immediately invok[ing] the DPA​​ to its full potential​ to direct American companies to mass manufacture medical supplies.”

[NOTE: Last week, the National Muslim Task Force on COVID-19, a broad coalition of 34 American Muslim organizations, released a joint statement strongly recommending that Muslims in North America make every effort to support self-quarantine and social distancing as advised by local, regional, state, and national public health or government authorities.]

The text of the letter is below:

Vice President Mike Pence,

We are now in the second phase of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States: swathes of our population across all 50 states are now practicing self-quarantine or social distancing, COVID-19 cases have surged to over 35,000, and our hospitals and healthcare workers are facing dire shortages of testing kits, medical supplies, and personal protective equipment. ​To effectively control the rate of infection, protect our healthcare workers, and strengthen our ability to treat those infected, we demand that the U.S. government increase the production and availability of testing kits nationwide and provide more medical resources and personal protective equipment (PPE) for our hospitals and healthcare workforce.

The rate of cases has been soaring while we struggle to play catch-up. Nearly two weeks ago, you promised that we would have 1.5 million tests conducted. The shortage of tests has hampered our efforts in containing the spread of infection and has prevented more stringent quarantine implementation. Both are crucial strategies recommended by WHO and successfully employed by nations to halt the spread of this infection. The lack of required funding to the CDC has created a failure in containing this pandemic by not immediately finding alternative pathways to provide COVID-19 testing, and now the CDC is also compromising the safety of our healthcare workers by not complying with the international standards of precautions and infection control required for COVID-19.

Although delayed, the Defense Protection Act (DPA) that President Trump signed carries the potential to alleviate the pressures on hospitals and professionals dealing with COVID-19 patients. We urge President Trump to immediately invoke the DPA​​ to its full potential​ to direct American companies to mass manufacture medical supplies, including ventilators, respirators, and PPE, that are in short supply during this pandemic instead of waiting for a “worst case scenario”. ​As medical/public health professionals, policy advocates, and concerned citizens, we support the immediate implementation of the DPA and the expansion of the Act to include provisions for providing protective equipment for home health care staff and the vulnerable population including the elderly who are more susceptible to complications related to COVID-19.

The United States as a nation is falling behind in the fight against this pandemic as we have failed to utilize the strategies of testing, isolating, and tracking in due time. Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan are few of the countries that are leading the world in defeating COVID-19, and the US should review and learn from their methods. In fact, South Korea had its first case around the same time as the U.S., but was able to swiftly tackle the rate of infection through mass levels of testing and transparency between the government and its people. We urge the administration to follow the example of those countries to increase screening and to take these first steps towards better management of the current state of impending disaster that we are facing.

Sincerely,

Policy Committee of National Muslim Covid-19 Taskforce:

American Muslim Health Professionals (AMHP)

Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)

Islamic Medical Association of North American (IMANA)

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

Emgage Action

Muslim Caucus

Green Muslims

Women Neurologists Group

Network Lobby for Catholic Justice

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.

END

CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com; CAIR Government Affairs Department Director Robert McCaw, 202-999-8292, rmccaw@cair.com

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