Republican lawmakers question Virginia testing lag

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) — Governor Ralph Northam acknowledges the availability of testing is an area of Virginia's coronavirus response that needs attention. He appointed a task force to address the issue.

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But he says the challenge Virginia faces is not unique.

"It's not adequate anywhere," Northam said during a briefing Monday. "It's not adequate anywhere in the country. I think if you talk to other governors, you'll hear the same challenges."

But Delegate Todd Gilbert, the Republican leader in the House of Delegates, is calling on Northam to explain why Virginia is near the bottom when per-capita testing rates are ranked.

He says a robust testing program is a precursor to reopening Virginia's economy.

"Virginia has resources that other states can only dream of," Gilbert told WDBJ7. "We are not using our testing capacity to its full extent, and we want to know why."

A spokesperson for Governor Northam provided the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

"In the absence of a coordinated federal approach to testing, every single state is struggling to secure the critical test supplies and capacity we need. That is a fact. Given limited resources, Virginia was focused first on ensuring high-priority testing in an attempt to reduce hospitalizations and save lives. We are now in a position to ramp up the proactive widespread testing needed to ease our statewide restrictions in a safe and effective manner—and that’s what we are doing. Since the Governor announced a new testing task force last week, statewide testing capacity has increased 41 percent."

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