Sen. Baldwin, colleagues press health secretary for updates on novel Coronavirus, call for continuing robust, science-driven response

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), joined HELP Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and 29 of her Senate colleagues in sending a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar requesting updates on the administration’s response to the novel coronavirus outbreak and information on the steps being taken to keep families safe.

In the letter, the Senators asked HHS to keep them updated with the latest information regarding the severity of the disease, the country’s capacity to diagnose cases, what steps were being taken to prepare U.S. health care workers, what screening systems were in place at U.S. airports, the status of a novel coronavirus vaccine, and more.

The Senators also urged HHS to continue its robust, scientifically-driven response to the outbreak and asked what steps Congress should take to support their efforts to keep families safe.

“We write to express concern about the rapidly evolving 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), to urge your continued robust and scientifically driven response to the situation, and to assess whether any additional resources or action by Congress are needed at this time. A quick and effective response to the 2019-nCoV requires public health officials around the world work together to share reliable information about the disease and insight into steps taken to prevent, diagnose, and treat it appropriately,” wrote the Senators.

Despite the Trump administration regularly calling for cuts to public health programs, Congress recently passed a budget deal that increased funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its Infectious Disease Rapid Response Reserve Fund, which provides the agency with an immediate source of funding to prevent, prepare for, or respond to an infectious disease emergency either at home or abroad.

The letter was also signed by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Jack Reed (D-RI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Angus King (I-ME), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).