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Gardner Demands Coronavirus Screening and Prevention Information

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) sent a letter to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Steve Dickson requesting information regarding the United States’ domestic and international screening and prevention practices for the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) with regard to countries with a growing number of hotspots.

“In light of the concerning reports that demonstrate the sustained and increasing possibility of an outbreak on American soil due to the global nature of our economy and travel practices, it is essential that the United States government is prepared to take any and all steps necessary to prevent and combat this potential crisis,” Senator Gardner wrote. “With reports showing a growing concern from hotspots in countries like South Korea, Italy, and Iran, it is important that the United States ensure that there are proactive domestic screening measures and sustained international coordination to prevent further and potentially rapid spread to other regions.”

The full letter is available here and below: 

Dear Director Redfield, Secretary Pompeo, and Administrator Dickson: 

I am writing to request information on the United States’ domestic and international screening and prevention practices for the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) with regard to countries with a growing number of hotspots. The World Health Organization and the United States have respectively declared this outbreak a global and domestic public health emergency, and the impact on countries outside of the country of origin, China, continues to rise. In light of the concerning reports that demonstrate the sustained and increasing possibility of an outbreak on American soil due to the global nature of our economy and travel practices, it is essential that the United States government is prepared to take any and all steps necessary to prevent and combat this potential crisis.

As the death toll in China surpasses 2,500 and public health experts warn of the continuing global threat, it remains critical that the United States prepare and plan strategically.

  • With reports showing a growing concern from hotspots in countries like South Korea, Italy, and Iran, it is important that the United States ensure that there are proactive domestic screening measures and sustained international coordination to prevent further and potentially rapid spread to other regions. To that end, I request a response to the following questions: 
  • How has the current and planned domestic and international response to screenings in countries with hotspots with a high risk of spread been informed by and improved the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak (SARS) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak patterns?
  • As the global scope of the outbreak continues to grow, what steps is the CDC taking to proactively reevaluate and inform current and future airport screening protocols? This is particularly important in light of the new ”hotspot” countries like South Korea. Italy, and Iran.
  • How are the Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) coordinating with foreign governments and the World Health Organization (WHO) to identify countries at risk and proactively alert the public and issue travel advisories?
  • What steps has the CDC taken to provide travelers to and from the United States with prevention protocols?
  • Due to the role air travel plays in our global economy, what steps is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) taking to coordinate with the CDC, WHO, and airlines to ensure public health containment and prevention best practices are being met?
  • Does the FAA have knowledge of national and international standards that govern airline precautions, disinfection protocols, and passenger coordination should an airline employee test positive for COVID-19?
    • If not, is there an opportunity to coordinate with the CDC and WHO to develop such standards?
  • Concurrently, how have the CDC and the FAA been coordinating with domestic and international air lines to disseminate prevention protocols?
  • What steps have the Department of State and the CDC taken to coordinate with foreign governments and verify that their screening and public health protocols abide by the United States standards and best interests?

Thank you to all of your agencies for the domestic and international work you do to ensure the safety and security of the American people. I look forward to continuing to serve as a collaborative partner in this effort and request updates on the ongoing status.

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Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.

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