June 22, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52) joined his colleagues on the House Energy and Commerce Committee to hear from members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force about the administration’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. The hearing comes days after President Trump gave a campaign speech where he told supporters that COVID-19 testing was "a double-edged sword” and had told his staff to “slow the testing down.”
The witness panel included: Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases for the National Institutes of Health; Adm. Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Dr. Stephen Hahn, Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; and Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The four members of the White House Task Force gave opening testimonies before answering questions posed by the committee’s lawmakers.
“All of the panelists – members of the President’s own task force – directly contradicted statements the President made in front of the whole nation this weekend,” said Peters. “Each expert was adamant that our success relies on drastically ramping up testing capabilities, including surveillance and contact tracing. They emphasized the need to rapidly advance and modernize our testing methods.”
“I asked Dr. Redfield about the CDC’s ability to deploy 21st century contact tracing tools and he indicated these tools are currently being developed. It is my hope that in addition to increasing testing quality, we also turn to technology that’s readily available to boost our tracing capacity,” Peters added. “Utilizing proximity tracking tools, like Bluetooth technology, would enhance our traditional contact tracing efforts by identifying people at risk of COVID-19 infection with more accuracy, privacy and speed. It’s time we push past our outdated ways of thinking and take advantage of the common sense, innovative solutions already at our fingertips.”
The hearing was held by a hybrid of formats, with the experts and some lawmakers participating in person and others remoting in via Cisco Webex. Besides the need for robust testing, topics discussed also included vaccine development, addressing nationwide resurgences, and emerging health care disparities found in our communities.