HSGAC roundtable examines federal plan to stop coronavirus and pandemics spread

Feb. 13, 2020

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) examined the federal government’s efforts to combat the spread of emerging infectious diseases and pandemics in an interagency response to global outbreaks at a recent roundtable. The committee considered lessons learned from past outbreaks, including the 2014 Ebola outbreak, and how those lessons have improved the response to the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

In his opening statement, Chairman Ron Johnson, R (WI) noted, “The emergence of the novel coronavirus from Wuhan, China and its arrival on our doorstep shows the threat that pandemics pose to our nation. Already, around the world, this coronavirus has infected tens of thousands of people and killed hundreds. … I commend the hardworking professionals at the federal, state, and local levels that are helping to slow the spread of this virus across the U.S.

But the purpose of this roundtable is to examine our response to pandemics like the coronavirus and ask what more the federal government could be doing to combat the outbreak of global infectious diseases. … We need clear roles and effective strategies in place before an outbreak hits our shores. … If we want to stop infectious diseases from becoming global problems, then we must ensure that our policies and procedures are thoughtfully developed and ready to go before the next infection crosses our borders.’

This roundtable is timely because of the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus, but these are important policy issues that will continue to be relevant. The American people need to be reassured that their government has learned the lessons of the past and is doing the best it can to protect them.”

The panel participants included:

·        Chairman Johnson

·         Nikki Clowers, Managing Director Health Care Team, U.S. Government Accountability Office

·         Julie L. Gerberding, MD, Former Director (2002-2009) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

·         The Honorable Scott Gottlieb, MD, Former Commissioner (2017-2019) of the Food and Drug Administration at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

·         Luciana Borio, MD, Former Director for Medical and Biodefense Preparedness (2017-2019), at the National Security Council

·         Asha M. George, DrPH, Executive Director, Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense

The Honorable Gottlieb, former FDA commissioner said; “We're going to start to see those outbreaks emerge sometime in the next two to four weeks. We should be leaning in very aggressively to try to broaden diagnostic screening right now, particularly in communities where there is a lot of immigration where these efforts could emerge to identify them early enough that they'll be small enough that we can intervene to prevent — prevent more epidemic spread in this country.”

 “I don't think we should be planning for the onesie-twosie cases that we've been seeing thus far in the United States. We have to plan for the possibility that we have thousands of cases, you know,” said George.

“We're going to see a lot more cases here, and I really worry about the helpers in the parasite patients,” said Borio.

HSGAC has the video.

HSGAC has the story.

More COVID-19 coverage HERE.