Trump says there’s ‘tremendous’ testing capacity for returning senators

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump taps new ambassador to Ukraine Trump announces new pick for HHS inspector general Health official: US should have banned travel from Europe earlier to slow spread of coronavirus MORE on Saturday insisted that there is “tremendous” coronavirus testing capacity for senators returning to Washington, D.C., after Capitol physician Brian Monahan had said earlier in the week that his office did not have capacity to screen all 100 senators.

“There is tremendous CoronaVirus testing capacity in Washington for the Senators returning to Capital Hill on Monday. Likewise the House, which should return but isn’t because of Crazy Nancy P. The 5 minute Abbott Test will be used. Please inform Dr. Brian P. Monahan,” Trump tweeted, tagging his chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsNew White House press secretary vows never to lie at inaugural briefing Trump’s new press secretary to hold first formal briefing Friday Top Trump policy adviser Joe Grogan to leave post MORE

The Senate is scheduled to return to Washington on Monday as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Easing lockdowns seen unlikely to stop economy bleeding | GOP divided over state aid | House panel calls on Bezos to testify Overnight Health Care: White House blocks Fauci from testifying before Congress | FDA to authorize emergency use of new coronavirus treatment | GOP divided over state aid during coronavirus pandemic McConnell’s Senate agenda for next week focuses on nominees and pandemic MORE (R-Ky.) has expressed an urge to proceed with judicial nominations despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced late Friday night on Twitter that the administration was sending Abbott tests to Congress.

“Good news: as the Senate reconvenes to do important work for the American people during this public health crisis, we have now received an initial request and are sending 3 Abbott point of care testing machines and 1,000 tests for their use,” he wrote.

Trump, Vice President Pence and others in the White House are regularly tested for the coronavirus, though lawmakers and staff have so far been advised to wear face masks and all congressional employees have been asked to check their temperatures before coming to the Capitol.

Monahan told Senate staff on a conference call Thursday that he didn’t have enough tests for all returning senators, according to multiple media outlets.

While the White House is using a rapid-test kit developed by Abbott that can produce results in around 5 minutes, Monahan told GOP aides on Thursday that he didn’t have such equipment and it could take at least two days to get results, The New York Times reported.

In guidance issued on Friday, Monahan recommended that senators and their staff take several precautions when returning to the Capitol complex.

He advised lawmakers to minimize the number of individuals in their offices, avoid gatherings and modify layouts of offices as possible to allow individuals at least six feet of distance.

Senate staff brought up the issue of COVID-19 testing to Monahan this week, noting that most senators are considered at-risk for contracting the coronavirus. 

Though Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is the only senator known to have tested positive for the coronavirus, several members of Congress, Capitol Police officers and congressional staffers have also tested positive for the disease.  

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