In the News
February 28, 2020
By Alicia Victoria Lozano
Three California congressmen who represent districts with military bases that received evacuees from China said Saturday that federal health officials failed to provide a "timely briefing" on their response to coronavirus.
U.S. Reps. Mark Takano, John Garamendi and Scott Peters, all Democrats, said senior officials at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services did not provide sufficient information following a whistleblower complaint alleging improper training and a lack of safety equipment for HHS workers who handled Americans returning from China.
Takano, Garamendi and Peters are asking federal health officials to provide an updated briefing on how they plan to address the growing coronavirus threat in the United States.
"As the representatives of military bases and communities that housed repatriated Americans and given the threat that these serious allegations may pose to public health, we need answers," the representatives said in a statement. "We called for this briefing because during these difficult times, our constituents and the American people deserve a proactive, level-headed response and honesty from the federal government."
HHS officials said in an emailed statement the agency is taking the whistleblower complaint seriously and will offer testing to any staff members from the department's Administration for Children and Families, which participated in repatriation efforts at the military bases, concerned about exposure to coronavirus.
"This is an intensive process involving significant fact gathering," an HHS spokesperson said in reference to the whistleblower's complaint. "We understand Congress’s desire for information and, for that reason and others, HHS is handling this situation with grave urgency. HHS will fully brief Congress and the public when it has completed its investigation."