FEMA Administrator on Delayed COVID Testing: The Agency’s Role ‘Has Not Changed’


In response to questions about whether the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) should have increased resources for COVID-19 testing months ago – before the omicron variant of coronavirus began to infect individuals nationwide – Administrator Deanne Criswell said Friday that the agency worked on supporting states based on what they had requested.

In a speech at the White House press conference, the leader said FEMA’s role has always been to support hospitals, schools and public service agencies.

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“We have supported them through delivery and reimbursement for PPE, for the medical staff we send out. That has not changed and that support will continue,” she answered.

“And the extra support that comes out to the general public is something that FEMA does not participate in, and those are the things that you hear will be announced and available to the public later,” Criswell noted.

FEMA Administrator on Delayed COVID Testing: The Agency’s Role ‘Has Not Changed’

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, accompanied by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, left, speaking at a White House press briefing in Washington, Friday, January 14, 2022. (AP Photo / Andrew Harnik)

Asked why FEMA had not made the decision to increase public testing sites in anticipation of increases in variants such as omicron, the administrator said the agency worked with states routinely and “heard what their needs are” and based support to them on what they need.

“And then when they ask for more help, that’s when we get together and give them the help they need,” she concluded.

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Criswell also promised that the administration and FEMA would “continue to increase staff, push resources and provide support using any tool available to combat COVID-19,” including action to expand FEMA policy.

“As critical as our doctors and nurses are, countless other professionals keep our hospitals running. Patient carriers, workers and cleaning staff are all at the heart of these healthcare facilities,” she said. “I am now leading an extension of our FEMA policy to allow funding for states that choose to use their National Guard troops to fill these critical support roles in hospitals. This pandemic has shifted and changed through the delta variant and now omicron- “variant, but our commitment from the entire federal family has not changed. Together, we will continue to increase staff, push resources and provide support using every tool at our disposal to combat our fight against COVID-19.”

Several states across the country have deployed the National Guard to help hospitals and test sites this month.

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The Biden administration has met with criticism in recent weeks too low stock and long queues for testing.

The president announced Thursday that he would double the order for home tests – to be distributed to Americans through a federal test site – to $ 1 billion.

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