Fauci, CDC and FDA chiefs testify on COVID-19 response

Members of President Donald Trump’s White House Coronavirus Task Force will testify in the House on Tuesday about concerns over the administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The House energy and commerce committee hearing will feature testimony from key members of the executive panel, which was formed in February to handle the health crisis and make recommendations for federal leadership. Those scheduled to testify, beginning at 11 a.m. EDT, are National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield and Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Brett Giroir.

The hearing is titled, “Oversight of the Trump Administration’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

“There have been a lot of unfortunate missteps in the Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said committee chairman Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J. “This hearing will provide us an opportunity to hear from key administration health officials about what is working, what still needs to be improved and what more Congress can do to help.”

Fauci has been one of the leading experts for the government since the health crisis began and has made many key recommendations.

According to Johns Hopkins University, The United States has so far reported more than 2.3 million cases and 120,400 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Several states, including Florida, Arizona, California and the Carolinas, have reported a rise in cases in recent weeks after loosening and lifting restrictions.

Pallone said in a statement, “While a second major increase of COVID-19 cases, or infections could occur in the fall, experts agree that the United States has not yet recovered or emerged from the first wave”.

On Monday, Pallone and Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado, chairwoman of the House oversight and investigations subcommittee, sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf to ask what federal efforts are being taken to ensure front-line workers have adequate medical supplies, personal protective equipment and testing capabilities and how agencies are coordinating efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19.

“We write to express serious concerns regarding reports of healthcare providers and governments at all levels continuing to encounter challenges in reliably procuring vital medical supplies needed to combat COVID-19,” Pallone and DeGette wrote in the letter. “We also want to better understand the extent to which the federal government is overseeing and coordinating these procurement activities.

“Healthcare providers and governments at all levels — which may lack experience in procuring scarce goods in a chaotic global market — have been forced to compete against each other to secure the supplies they need.”

Fauci testified last month before the Senate health committee and expressed concern about states reopening before there were documented declines in cases, and a number of other officials and experts have warned against reopening too much too soon.

The health officials are expected at Tuesday’s hearing to discuss the pandemic’s ongoing threat and potential issues that could occur if a sustained increase in COVID-19 occurs at the same time as flu season. On average, between 300,000 and 650,000 people die each year from influenza, according to World Health Organization figures.

“While it remains unclear how long the pandemic will last, COVID-19 activity will likely continue for some time,” Fauci said in prepared remarks for Tuesday’s hearing. “It is also unclear what impact the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will have on healthcare and public health systems during the upcoming influenza season.

“If there is COVID-19 and flu activity at the same time, this could place a tremendous burden on the healthcare system.”

Pic Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/niaid/5890993394

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