WASHINGTON — The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee 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 roundtable Wednesday. 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 outbreak.
In his opening statement, Chairman Johnson 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.”
Video of the roundtable is available here.