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As Coronavirus Fears Grow, Spanberger Calls for Administration to Appoint Point-Person to Coordinate U.S. Coronavirus Response

To Date, the Wuhan Coronavirus Has Infected More than 81,000 People Around the World

Washington, February 26, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today released the following statement as COVID-19 (Coronavirus) fears grow in the United States and around the world.

“My constituents have already experienced the incredible fear and anxiety of a Coronavirus scare in Central Virginia. Thankfully, these potential cases tested negative, but many Central Virginians remain rightfully concerned about the rapidly growing threat of Coronavirus and the potential effects of the virus on the health of their families, colleagues, and communities,” said Spanberger. “As we face this rapidly intensifying global epidemic, federal agencies must stand ready to confront a wide range of potentially dangerous scenarios. It’s not enough to simply say we’re prepared—we must be prepared with a plan. That’s why I’m calling on the administration to select one point-person to coordinate a robust, nationwide response and U.S. engagement in the international effort to address the increasing severity of this situation. That person must work in tandem with all levels of government to address the concerns of our neighbors, prepare local officials with the information they need, and provide sufficient healthcare resources in case of a long-term global health crisis. The time to mobilize was yesterday.”

During a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Asia-Pacific and Nonproliferation Subcommittee earlier this month focused on assessing the Coronavirus outbreak, Spanberger questioned witnesses about how the United States can best prevent the further spread of the virus in the United States. Additionally, she described her concerns about how ongoing U.S. diplomatic vacancies could be restricting the ability of the United States to respond to growing numbers of Coronavirus cases in countries around the world and adequately prepare U.S. citizens for a long-term public health threat.  

Witnesses at the Coronavirus-focused hearing included Ron Klain, the U.S. Ebola Response Coordinator from 2014 to 2015. In response to Spanberger’s questions regarding current diplomatic and foreign service vacancies, Klain expressed similar concerns about how ongoing gaps in federal positions could slow down logistics management in response to a burgeoning epidemic like the Wuhan Coronavirus.

And in a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Asia-Pacific and Nonproliferation Subcommittee tomorrow, Spanberger will continue to press for details on the Coronavirus outbreak and the international and U.S. response to this growing public health emergency. Click here for more information.

Earlier this month, Spanberger cosponsored the bipartisan Global Health Security Act, which would strengthen Executive Branch coordination in response to outbreaks and pandemics like the Wuhan Coronavirus. The legislation would also make clear that global health security is a core national security interest of the United States—and it would establish a Special Advisor to the President for Global Health Security at the National Security Council.  


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