Senator Michael Bennet sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar Jan. 27, requesting updates on the Trump administration’s response to the novel coronavirus outbreak and details on the steps being taken to keep families safe.
In the letter, Bennet and 30 of his Democratic Senate colleagues asked HHS for the latest information regarding the severity of the disease, the country’s capacity to diagnose cases, what steps are being taken to prepare U.S. health care workers, what screening systems are in place at U.S. airports, and the status of a novel coronavirus vaccine.
According to a news release from Bennet’s office, the senators also urged a “robust, scientifically-driven response to the outbreak” and asked what steps Congress should take to support their efforts to keep families safe.
The letter comes on the heels of an announcement from the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment which said that two patients under investigation in Colorado have tested negative for the coronavirus and test results for a third patient are pending.
“We write to express concern about the rapidly evolving 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), to urge your continued robust and scientifically driven response to the situation, and to assess whether any additional resources or action by Congress are needed at this time,” the senators wrote in the letter to HHS.
“A quick and effective response to the 2019-nCoV requires public health officials around the world work together to share reliable information about the disease and insight into steps taken to prevent, diagnose, and treat it appropriately.”
The Trump administration has regularly called for cuts to public health programs, but Congress recently passed a budget deal that increased funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its Infectious Disease Rapid Response Reserve Fund.
Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) also sent a letter Jan. 27 to CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Steve Dickson, requesting information on U.S. domestic and international screening and prevention practices for the novel coronavirus with regard to countries with a growing number of hotspots.
“In light of the concerning reports that demonstrate the sustained and increasing possibility of an outbreak on American soil due to the global nature of our economy and travel practices, it is essential that the United States government is prepared to take any and all steps necessary to prevent and combat this potential crisis,” Gardner wrote.
“With reports showing a growing concern from hotspots in countries like South Korea, Italy, and Iran, it is important that the United States ensure that there are proactive domestic screening measures and sustained international coordination to prevent further and potentially rapid spread to other regions.”