Congressman Ami Bera, D-CA, a physician by training, and currently chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation, announced Feb. 20, 2020, the second subcommittee hearing on the coronavirus outbreak that he will chair.
Witnesses will include U.S. government officials who have led the response to the virus.
In announcing the second hearing scheduled to be held Feb. 27, Dr. Bera applauded the work done by public servants to ensure the safety and health of the American people from the virus.
This is in the midst of the return of hundreds of Americans from a cruiseship docked in Japan on which at least 2 passengers in their 80s, died from catching the infection.
“I know that personnel at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services, and the State Department have been working around-the-clock to keep us all safe,” Bera said in an announcement. “We must continue to remain vigilant and prepared.”
The first congressional hearing that he chaired was held on February 5, where experts, including epidemiologists, provided recommendations to improve U.S. readiness.
The second hearing, Bera said, was an “opportunity for the American public to hear directly from the Administration on the steps they are taking to keep our people safe and for Congress to provide oversight on the Administration’s response.”
“In addition, it’s critical that Congress and the public understand the coronavirus’ impact on American citizens around the world, as well as how it is affecting the U.S. and international economies,” Bera added.
The Feb. 27 hearing on “Coronavirus Disease 2019: The U.S. and International Response includes witnesses from the State Department including Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Ian Brownlee; Jonathan Fritz, deputy assistant secretary at the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs; and William A. Walters, Ph.D., executive director and managing director for operation medicine, at the State’s Bureau of Medical Services.
Also included among the witnesses is the Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Robert Redfield.
As a doctor, Congressman Bera has always been a strong supporter of American leadership in global health, Bera’s press release said.
In March 2019, Rep. Bera led a bipartisan letter urging Congress to sustain global health security funding. In May 2018, he successfully urged the Administration to halt Ebola funding cuts. He also led efforts by the Foreign Affairs Committee to address the global Zika epidemic and has pushed Congress to do more to stop future outbreaks.
The novel coronavirus, which can infect animals and humans, is highly contagious. So far it has infected more than 75,000 people and killed more than 2000, mostly in China.