(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – 60 House Democrats, including Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD-08), today urged President Trump to make swift changes to increase the effectiveness of the Administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Representatives, led by Rep. Don Beyer (VA-08), identified significant flaws in the early phases of efforts to contain the disease including disorganization, a poorly defined chain of command, the spread of bad information, requests for budget cuts and inadequate funding, and staffing vacancies. They offered to work constructively with the administration to make improvements, but stressed that lives depend on the President and his team showing stronger leadership.
“We write regarding the risk of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading within the United States and your administration’s handling of this potential public health crisis. The American people need strong, organized leadership at this moment, but the response to date has been dangerously inadequate.
“Recent statements by top administration officials have given wildly conflicting answers to critical questions, including the prospect of the virus spreading within the United States and the potential timeline for the development of a vaccine. The obvious and inescapable fact is that if multiple Cabinet-level officials give different answers on these topics, at least one of the most important public officials responsible for handling this crisis is ignorant of key facts. Such discrepancies reveal a startling lack of information-sharing, which also suggests the absence of interagency coordination, planning, and strategic focus.
“The potential of a pandemic is not a matter of economic or political benefit, it is a matter of life and death. We urge you to immediately establish a strong chain of command for the U.S. government’s pandemic response with clearly identified authority to coordinate an administration-wide response. We urge you to reestablish the NSC and DHS offices of global health security and appoint qualified experts to lead them. We urge you to abandon planned cuts to public health agencies and global health initiatives immediately. We urge you to utilize all available resources to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“The level of chaos with which the administration has greeted the spread of coronavirus is unacceptable and frankly frightening. Our constituents are not interested in credit or partisan battles, they just want to know that this problem will be solved.
“They are counting on you to solve it. We stand ready and willing to help.”
A signed copy of the letter is available here.