Rep. Payne, Jr. Hearing Finds U.S. Not Ready for Mass Outbreak of Coronavirus

March 10, 2020
Press Release

Media Contact:  Patrick Wright   --

Washington, D.C. — Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. lead a subcommittee hearing today that found the United States could handle the amount of coronavirus cases right now, but health experts said it was far from ready if the disease continues to spread.


Rep. Payne, Jr. said the hearing confirmed what many health professionals around the country have been saying for months.       


“The administration’s response to this public health crisis has been woefully inadequate,” said Congressman Payne, Jr.  “We need to get up to speed to make sure our citizens have the health protections they need.  The public does not know enough about the administration’s plan to attack coronavirus and hysteria is caused by not knowing.  The more information we can get to the public, the better off we will be.”   


Experts told members of the House Committee on Homeland Security that states lack the number of coronavirus kits to test citizens and the administration is not seeking out people who might be infected, preferring to wait until they get sick.  It is a glaring issue in New Jersey, where a New Jersey Department of Health official said the state could only test a few hundred of its almost nine million residents.     


The subcommittee hearing, titled “Community Perspectives on Coronovirus Preparedness and Response,” helped committee members understand the nation’s current issues with coronavirus prevention and containment.  Members heard testimony from Ron Klain, former White House Ebola Response Coordinator; J. Nadine Gracia, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Trust for America’s Health; Christopher Neuwirth, Assistant Commissioner of the Division of Public Health Infrastructure, Laboratories, and Emergency Preparedness for the New Jersey Department of Health; and Thomas Dobbs, State Health Officer with the Mississippi State Department of Health.

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