The following are remarks made by Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson during Monday’s COVID-19 Response Team’s regular call with the National Governor’s Association. Here are his comments, unedited:
“Thank you, Jeff. And I want to thank all of the White House team for being such great support to the governors.
And I want to thank, Mr. President — your address to the nation last week. Thank you for your comments designed to de-politicize our COVID response. I think that was helpful.
As we face Omicron, the governors and your administration must be working together more closely than ever. I particularly appreciate your comments about increasing the supply chain on rapid COVID tests. This has become a real challenge for the governors.
And your task force, led by Jeff Zients, has been responsive and has kept us informed every step of the way. A good example is this last week: I asked for more monoclonal antibody treatments; we received them last week. Still, we have a limited supply, but the responsiveness is very much appreciated.
I would like to give you a glimpse of Arkansas today. First, hospitalizations are down by half from where they were this time last year, but our Omicron case count and the demand for testing has increased. In Arkansas, we have a test-to-stay school program that’s a pilot in 50 schools. We want to expand that, and right now we have sufficient tests to be able to do that.
But we also, as governors, are getting pressure to do more, and the need is great to do more in terms of the rapid tests and the availability of it. And so, one word of concern or encouragement for your team is that as the — as you look towards federal solutions that will help alleviate the challenge, make sure that we do not let federal solutions stand in the way of state solutions.
And the — the production of 500 million rapid tests that will be distributed by the federal government is great, but, obviously, that dries up the supply chain for the solutions that we might offer as governor.
And so, just that brief comment before I turn it over to you, Mr. President.
But I want to say, personally, I’ve enjoyed working with you when I was in Congress as head of the DEA. And I appreciate your leadership. And thank you so much for giving us the time today to hear from us, but also so that we can hear from you personally about the challenge that we face.
So, Mr. President, the microphone is yours. Thank you, President Biden.”