Bernie Sanders wearing a mask in December of 2021 while speaking with media members. (File photo)
Frustrated with the governmentís lackluster response to the rising tide of new COVID-19 cases, Democratic lawmakers in the US are pressing the Biden administration to do better in curbing the pandemic amid mounting pressure from constituents bewildered by conflicting health guidance.
Democratic Congress members, Elissa Slotkin of Michigan and Tim Ryan of Ohio, have called on US President Joe Biden to purchase and distribute domestically manufactured KN95 masks to any American household requesting them, saying the costs should be covered by previously allocated COVID-19 funds.
"We strongly encourage the administration to take the opportunity to prevent further loss of life... by leveraging the federal governmentís substantial authority to prioritize American-made masks and PPE," the pair said in a letter to Biden on Wednesday.
They warned that the nation remained at a "crossroads" in its battle against the pandemic, as reported by the US-based news outlet Axios.
It came after more than 40 members of the US House of Representatives and Senate shot off a letter to Biden on Monday, calling on his administration to expand COVID-19 rapid testing.
This is while White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki conceded to reporters earlier this week that the administration - which spoke highly of its competence during the 2020 presidential campaigns - was "not where we needed to be" in terms of testing supplies.
Later, a White House official cited the administrationís vaccination and COVID-relief efforts to claim they were "honest about the challenges" and "continue to address them with Congress".
The lack of readily available rapid testing -- particularly prior to the recent Christmas holidays - is yet another key concern - among others, such as the federal health agencyís guidance - detailed by aides and members of the Biden administration.
Democratic Congresswoman Cori Bush of Missouri (D-Mo.) on New Yearís Eve posted a Twitter message, calling for "free at-home and in-person COVID-19 tests, free N95/KN95 high-quality masks," for every person in the country and whenever they need.
She made a similar call on Tuesday, saying the "free at-home rapid tests in the middle of a record-breaking COVID surge should not just be a privilege for the insured."
California Congresswoman Katie Porter re-tweeted a post from Capt. Joe DePete, president of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), who criticized the federal health agency for cutting the quarantine time for those whoíve tested positive for COVID-19 from 10 days to five.
DePete stressed that pilots should not feel pressured to fly unless they are medically fit to do so, saying the ALPA "will not allow corporate interests to replace the good judgment pilots show daily in making decisions about whether they are healthy to fly."
Moreover, Will McKelvey, a former health policy adviser to California Congressman Ro Khanna also slammed the agency for not mandating a negative rapid test after the five-day quarantine period.
McKelvey described the decision as "disappointing, but predictable due to the shortage of rapid tests."
He underlined that this "shortage could have been avoided by focusing on approving and distributing inexpensive paper-strip tests, like more than a dozen Congress-members pushed for in 2020."
US reported 1.35 million new coronavirus infections earlier this week, marking the highest daily total for any country in the world as the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant showed no signs of abating.
The previous record was 1.03 million cases on January 3. The seven-day average for new cases has tripled in two weeks to over 700,000 new infections a day.
The record in new cases came on the same day as the nation saw the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients surging to an all-time high, having doubled in three weeks.
There were more than 136,604 people hospitalized with COVID-19, surpassing the record of 132,051 set in January last year.
The surge in cases has disrupted schools, which are struggling with absences of staff, teachers and bus drivers.
Deaths are averaging 1,700 per day, up from about 1,400 in recent days but within levels seen earlier this winter.