SEATTLE - U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier, who represents Washington state's 8th District, said the key to opening up the economy and bringing back normalcy is robust testing.
In an interview with Q13 News, Rep. Schrier, a Democrat, said thousands of tests will be needed on a daily basis in order to keep COVID-19 at bay once the the stay home order is lifted.
"What I'm hearing from experts is that we’re going to need to be doing about 85,000 tests per day in Washington state. We will need millions of tests across the country every day in order to keep this down," Schrier said.
According to Schrier, there are some "prerequisites" that need to happen before even considering lifting the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. She said the first thing that needs to happen is that there needs to be a downward trend in COVID-19 cases for about two weeks.
She said the second thing needed is the robust testing.
"We cannot do this thing flying blind again. This has been awful. The only tool we had was to shut everything down," said Schrier.
She said she's heard from business owners who are suffering, people who have lost their jobs, and health care workers that aren't getting enough personal protective equipment, or PPE.
When asked about how President Trump has handled the pandemic, she said her focus right now is not making it into a political debate but focusing on making sure the economy, businesses and people are safe.
She did have one critique, however.
"What I can tell you right now, is that we need consistent messaging. I think that having inconsistent messaging and downplaying of the severity of this pandemic was very destructive and really put a lot of people’s lives in danger," said Schrier.
She is calling on the president to use the Defense Production Act to force private companies to provide testing or medical equipment.
"I cannot believe that under these circumstances we are dependent on China. The day China has a resurgence of this and they say we’re not sending masks to the United States, we are in a world of hurt," she said.
But for Schrier, a pediatrician, testing will be key. Getting those tests will be the challenge moving forward, she said.
"Won’t you feel better going to a restaurant if you’ve been assured that everybody working in the restaurant that night has been tested and does not have coronavirus? Won’t you feel better about going back to work if either you have the protective equipment or you know the people you’re working closely with are not going to spread this to you? Fundamentally, we need robust testing," she said.
President Trump, meanwhile, has convened a panel to explore when and how to reopen the economy, and Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday announced a pact with Oregon and California to take a regional, science-based approach to reopening economies on the West Coast.