WASHINGTON — Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono and 16 of her Democratic colleagues are demanding answers from the Trump administration about its slow response to the coronavirus epidemic and in particular its failures to distribute and approve testing kits.

In a March 16 letter to Vice President Mike Pence and Admiral Brett Giroir, assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the senators criticized the administration’s failures to ensure diagnostic tests for COVID-19 were available in time to detect the true scope of the problem.

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono wants the Trump administration to answer for its bungled response to the coronavirus pandemic. Nick Grube/Civil Beat/2018

They also attacked the administration’s repeated mischaracterizations of the seriousness of the pandemic, including making “a series of false promises about the country’s diagnostic capacities, spreading confusing and untrue information about the availability of tests for the general public.”

“The ability to accurately and swiftly test for COVID-19 is critical to informing public health decisions—like social distancing, quarantining, and contact tracing—which can slow the exponential growth of the virus,” the letter states.

“The Administration’s continued failure to ensure a sufficient number of diagnostic testing kits for COVID-19 are available, and its inability to provide clear and honest answers about this problem in the midst of this public health emergency, is unacceptable, and the American public deserves answers.”

Hirono issued a press release about the letter Thursday. Other Democrats who signed on include U.S. senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Tammy Baldwin and Patty Murray.

You can read the full letter here:

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