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Engel Statement on COVID-19 Coronavirus Outbreak

Engel Statement on COVID-19 Coronavirus Outbreak

Congressman Eliot L. Engel today issued the following statement on the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak:

“Whether it’s in China, Italy or here in the United States, the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, or sociodemographic. While I commend the men and women of the CDC, FDA, NIH and other federal agencies for the lifesaving work they are carrying out, there are pressing actions that President Trump should immediately take to protect American lives. But judging by his recent comments on this topic, I’m not sure he either understands or takes seriously enough the situation.

“First and foremost, the Administration failed to make an emergency funding request to Congress weeks ago as House Democrats demanded. Their overdue emergency supplemental sent last night is at best meager and is a drop in the bucket of what is needed by our federal health agencies. Additionally, this request comes after the President proposed gutting CDC’s budget, the agency on frontline of this outbreak both home and abroad.

“I look forward to working with my House colleagues on a robust, comprehensive funding package that ensures our federal agencies and local health departments have the resources to conduct screenings and provide necessary medical care to those diagnosed with COVID-19. It is also critical that this package include funding to expedite the development of a vaccine and purchase medical supplies and equipment.

“It is a public health necessity that the Administration resolve the immediate issues plaguing screening tests, which have hampered the ability of cities and states to test their residents for the disease, placing an unnecessary delay and roadblock in the roll out of a nationwide surveillance system.

“The White House should also show the American people that it prioritizes their health and safety by immediately re-establishing the health directorate on the National Security Council, a position it abruptly eliminated in 2018. During the 2014 Ebola outbreak, this senior-level official was vital to ensuring the federal government acted in a coordinated, effective manner and would be instrumental in this current outbreak.

“While the threat of a COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. remains low, it is critical that all parts of the federal government take proactive measures to protect American lives and stop this virus before it takes hold in the U.S.”

Background:Congressman Engel, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, participated in a Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing on February 5 on the potential impact of the COVID-19 virus on the U.S. and its ability to respond and prepare for it. It was the first hearing held on the outbreak. Engel’s remarks from the hearing can been seen here: https://foreignaffairs.house.gov/2020/2/engel-statement-at-coronavirus-outbreak-subcommittee-hearing

Engel also participated in a closed-door, bipartisan briefing on the virus outbreak and U.S. response with other Members of the Energy and Commerce House Committee.