HHS: Senators will have 1,000 coronavirus tests available for their return to DC

"Good news: as the Senate comes together to do important work for the American people during this public health crisis, we have now received an initial request and sent 3 Abbott test machines and 1000 tests for their use," Azar tweeted Friday.
The Senate is set to return to work in Washington, DC, on Monday as their states continue to fight the coronavirus outbreak, create anxiety and worry among members and staff who feel that their health is being compromised. The number of coronavirus cases in the country's capital is still high, and health experts have urged workers there to stay home.

Many senators fall into the high-risk category of age and existing conditions that make them vulnerable to coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Capitol attending physician Brian Monahan indicated in a private conference call Thursday that Capitol lacks capacity to regularly test all senators and say that tests will only be made available to those who are ill, according to two sources familiar with the conversation.

The White House, in stark contrast, often conducts Covid-19 tests. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are regularly tested – more than weekly – for coronaviruses, two senior executives told CNN. The White House is also testing its high-ranking officials and anyone who comes into regular contact with the president, including weekly tests for Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and Vice President Marc Short, the officials said.

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The White House has used the rapid Abbott Labs test, two famous people told CNN.

On Twitter Saturday, Trump assured there is "huge CoronaVirus testing capability in Washington" for the senators coming back Monday.

"Please inform Dr. Brian P. Monahan," he added.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Fox News in an interview Thursday that he believes the chamber can "run our business safely."

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The Senate plans to consider several of Trump's nominee nominees, prompting screams from Democrats claiming that members should only recover to focus on oversight of the coronavirus response and provide a new relief package.

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On Friday, Monahan issued guidelines on how the Senate should operate, and advised offices to limit the number of staff, avoid gatherings, screen visitors, wear face covers and social distance.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives – which has 435 members compared to 100 in the Senate – canceled the plans to return to Washington next week, with Democratic leadership citing Monahan guidance.

Trump criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Twitter Saturday, saying the house should come back.

Pelosi had said earlier this week that the chamber is the "award-winning virus," and the plan will depend on guidance from Monahan and the sergeant on weapons.

CNN's Ted Barrett, Manu Raju, Kristen Holmes, Kaitlan Collins, Sunlen Serfaty, Haley Byrd, Noah Broder and Jason Hoffman contributed to this report.

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