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DeFazio: Federal COVID-19 Guidance Stronger Under Biden Than Trump

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Brian Bull
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KLCC

The fight against COVID-19 is stronger under the Biden Administration, says U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio. The Oregon Democrat said more needs to be done to get the nation back on its feet, however.

DeFazio made his remarks after touring the University of Oregon’s COVID-19 Monitoring and Assessment Program, which received $4 million in federal COVID relief money last fall.  He says more assistance will come under President Joe Biden than with his predecessor.

“With the Trump administration, 'Hey, this is going to go away magically,'...oops, it didn’t, did it?" said DeFazio.  "So…the federal government has not provided clear direction for the states. It has provided only when Congress has pushed it, provided assistance for the states.  And a lot of the states are strapped for revenue.”

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Credit Photo from Peter DeFazio's Congressional Office
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Congressman Peter DeFazio tours the University of Oregon's COVID-19 Monitoring and Assessment Program on January 29, 2021.

DeFazio echoes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s statements that welcome GOP support for a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, but if need be, House Democrats will go it alone if Republicans don’t buy in.

On West Virginia

West Virginia’s success in administering the COVID-19 vaccine may inspire a similar approach for parts of Oregon, added DeFazio.

The Democrat made his remarks today  after touring the University of Oregon’s COVID-19 Monitoring and Assessment program.  While impressed with the "extraordinary" facility, he said the state’s testing and vaccine efforts overall have room for improvement.

“West Virginia is doing the best in the country which is pretty amazing because it’s a pretty poor state. But Oregon is evolving…I was talking to (Oregon Governor Kate Brown) last week, they’re potentially looking at the West Virginia model over in eastern Oregon, where people are more dispersed, they have more sites that are dispersed around in small communities where people can be tested, as opposed to mass sites like we have here at the U of O.” 

West Virginia leads the nation for vaccine distribution and administration.

The University of Oregon's winter uptick, explained

A recent spike in COVID-19 cases among University of Oregon students is the result of increased testing, says a campus official.

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Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
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KLCC
Cassandra Moseley, talking to reporters at the U of O.

Cassandra Moseley is the interim vice president for research and innovation. When asked today about 174 U of O students testing positive last week, she said that’s from more frequent testing in dorms.

"That’s really been a focus, and that’s part of why you’re seeing even a steeper climb is because we’re catching people earlier and trying to really stem the spread that way, making sure people get in isolation and quarantine as appropriate quickly," Moseley told reporters.

"And then we are collaborating with Lane County Public Health on contact tracing. We have something called the Corona Corps, where students are trained to help do the contact tracing both of our own students and also in the community.” 

Mosely made her remarks at a media event outside the U of O’s COVID-19 Monitoring and Assessment Program.  The facility is Lane County’s largest testing program, with a capacity of 17,000 tests daily.

Copyright 2021, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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