House panel to hold hearing on response to coronavirus
Jan 30, 2020
In The News
A House panel announced Thursday that it will hold a hearing next week on how the federal government is handling the global coronavirus outbreak.
Next Wednesday's hearing in the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation will be the first congressional hearing on the coronavirus, which has killed at least 170 people.
The hearing is currently slated to feature testimony from a group of experts on China and public health. Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.), the subcommittee's chairman, said that he had also invited witnesses from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and State Department to testify, but it's unclear if they will attend.
“While the threat of the coronavirus is relatively low in the United States at this time, we must be vigilant and prepared,” Bera said in a statement. “Congress needs to ensure the administration has the tools it needs to respond to and limit the outbreak."
Among the witnesses will be Ron Klain, who coordinated the Obama administration's response to the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and 2015. Jennifer Nuzzo, an associate professor and senior scholar at Johns Hopkins University's Center for Health Security, and Jennifer Bouey, a senior policy researcher and Tang Chair in China Policy Studies at the RAND Corporation, are also slated to testify.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have received briefings on the coronavirus in recent days, but had not held public hearings.
As of Thursday, more than 7,700 people have become ill in mainland China, where the coronavirus originated. Another 68 cases of the coronavirus have been reported worldwide.
The CDC on Thursday also confirmed the first case of the coronavirus spreading from one person to another within the United States.
All of the U.S. cases to date had been from people traveling from China to the U.S. But the CDC said that a patient in Chicago became sick with the coronavirus from his spouse, who had recently traveled to China.
Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, maintained that despite the development, "our assessment remains that the immediate risk to the American public is low."
Earlier this week, the State Department evacuated nearly 200 Americans from Wuhan.
Meanwhile, the White House on Wednesday announced a task force to monitor the coronavirus and lead the government's response to contain its spread.