April 11, 2020

States have grown frustrated over their inability to access a useful amount of rapid novel COVID-19 coronavirus test kits that can deliver results in under 15 minutes, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The tests, produced by Abbot Laboratories, were considered a game-changer by the Trump administration — and they still may very well be — but multiple states who have received them have said the amount they got won't make a difference (New York isn't putting them to use until there's a practical amount.) Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D), for example, thought he sealed an agreement to receive enough for 88,000 tests per month, but it turned out the federal government took over the purchasing and Illinois ultimately wound up with just 15 testing machines and 120 cartridges, which amounts to eight tests per machine across the state.

The White House also didn't account for population when distributing to states, giving each the same amount, except for Alaska which received more so it could ramp up testing in remote areas. The Department of Health and Human Services said it also provided 250 machines for the Indian Health Service, which provides health care for 2.6 million Native Americans, but that reportedly doesn't meet needs, either, especially for people living on remote reservations.

The smaller-than-expected deliveries to state labs, though, don't necessarily mean health care systems aren't getting access to the tests. A spokeswoman for the HHS said the limited quantities were purchased because the White House wanted to leave enough for hospitals, and states can reportedly order more supplies through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Abbot has been churning out 50,000 test cartridges per day and has shipped thousands of kits to doctors' offices, universities, and labs, in addition to the federal supply. Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Tim O'Donnell

October 21, 2019

U.S. troops didn't make the decision to leave Syria and transfer to Iraq, but they're facing the consequences of their superiors anyway.

Kurdish bystanders reportedly hurled rotten fruit and stones at U.S. military vehicles as they made their away to the Iraqi border, where a number of troops will reportedly continue to work toward preventing the Islamic State's resurgence.

The Kurds consider the withdrawal from northern Syria a major betrayal, as it left Turkey an opening to invade the region. At one point the U.S. convoy was blocked by demonstrators, one of whom held a sign that read "To the U.S. Army who are leaving northeast Syria now tell your children that the children of the Kurds were killed by the Turks and we did nothing to protect them," The Wall Street Journal reports. A cease-fire was brokered last week, but both Turkey and Kurdish-led forces have accused the other of breaching it already.

Cedric Leighton, a retired Air Force colonel, appeared Monday on CNN, where he theorized that the Kurds, who fought alongside the U.S. against ISIS for years, weren't frustrated with the individual troops, but the U.S. government. The soldiers, though, were actually present and subsequently became the subject of the Kurds' anger by default.

Leighton said he imagined the moment was "heartbreaking" for the troops in the vehicles. Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Tim O'Donnell

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