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Rogers Opening Statement at Coronavirus Hearing

March 4, 2020

                                                         Rogers Opening Statement at Coronavirus Hearing

WASHINGTON – Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), House Homeland Security Committee ranking member, today delivered an opening statement at a full committee hearing entitled, “Confronting the Coronavirus: Perspectives on the Response to a Pandemic Threat.”

As I said yesterday, our hearts go out to those who have lost their loved ones and those who are currently undergoing treatment.

This is a global event that requires a global response.

I know many of our international partners are working diligently as part of a united effort to understand and address Covid-19’s spread.

Unfortunately, some of the actions taken by other countries may have hindered a comprehensive response to this new virus.

I remain concerned that Chinese officials knowingly withheld essential information from both the public and the international health community in the most critical stages of this outbreak.

I’m sure that the early days of this outbreak will be under intense scrutiny once the crisis is over.

My deepest concern for the moment is the level of preparedness at the state and local level.

I’ve heard directly from state and local responders, medical professionals, and emergency managers that are dealing with an increasingly concerned public.

We have a very distinguished panel of medical professionals here today.

I am interested in hearing from them what assistance frontline health professionals need from the federal government to effectively deal with this crisis.

I am also very pleased to have Dr. Gerberding here today. Dr. Gerberding was the Director of the CDC for most of the Bush administration. She led a very effective response to the Anthrax attacks, and the outbreak of SARS and managed more than 40 other emergency responses.

I’m very interested in hearing about her experience and how lessons learned from managing those public health emergencies can be applied to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Finally, I am interested in the panel’s honest assessment of the risk from this virus. Your expert medical opinion is invaluable in reassuring the public during times like this.

It is also very important for political leaders to avoid fanning the flames of hysteria.

Our job should be to support the medical community and provide them with the resources they need to handle this and future outbreaks.

That’s why I am very pleased we will be considering a supplemental appropriations bill today. Hopefully, this funding will help speed along important diagnostic, treatment, and vaccination resources that will alleviate this crisis.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.