Senator Barrasso: We have a plan in place to combat Coronavirus
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) spoke on the Senate floor on what the United States is doing to combat and contain the coronavirus.
The following are excerpts of Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“I come to the floor today as a senator as well as a physician, and I want to do this to reassure the American people that we are doing everything possible to combat and contain the coronavirus.
“According to Johns Hopkins University, well known medical institution, we here in the United States are the most prepared nation on the face of the Earth to protect ourselves, in terms of preparation, for an infectious disease like the coronavirus.
“Nevertheless, this virus is a global concern and has pandemic potential.
“The outbreak, we know, started in China. It goes without saying, we are deeply saddened by the loss of life there, as well as here, and around the world. And we’re concerned about those currently suffering from the virus.
“Our focus continues to be on protecting the health and the well-being and the safety of the American people. That’s where we need to focus.
“Notably, President Trump’s early travel restrictions on China have actually helped slow the spread of the virus.
“He has since expanded these restrictions. The president, I believe, has acted swiftly, boldly, decisively to contain the virus and to keep Americans safe.
“Still this country is not a hermetically sealed bubble. Never will be. Can’t be. So, we’re likely to see more cases here in the days and the weeks ahead.
“So, we all must be prepared, and we must stay vigilant.
“Be assured, the Trump administration is fully engaged in responding to this virus.
“The United States has the best public health system in the world.
“And we have a plan in place to combat the coronavirus.
“Our public health experts are working to identify and isolate the virus, as well as to produce a vaccine.
“The fastest you can ever produce a vaccine is usually several years. We seem to be moving faster than that with regard to coronavirus.
“Vaccine development, even though moving faster than ever, will still take at a minimum of a year to a year and six months to have a vaccine available and produced at a level that can actually impact the population and the country.
“It’s because it’s a new virus, so a new vaccine needs to be developed.
“Now, the vice president said over the weekend that we expect to have a vaccine available sometime next year, and I agree.
“Meanwhile, our strategy for testing, for isolation, for quarantines right now is helping to lower the risks.
“Years ago we created an infectious disease rapid-response team. The goal was to make sure we were ready if the time would come, and the time has now come.
“Test kits are becoming more widely available for states and communities.
“We heard today, over the noon hour, that they’re expecting to have enough test kits available around the country, to over the next week, test a million people.
“We’re going to continue to use every available tool we can in this fight.
“The White House has created a coronavirus task force led by Vice President Pence.
“The effort is headed by top officials at the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health.
“I’ve had a chance to visit with a number of them today, and specifically, the infectious disease group through the NIH.
“We’ve had a number of briefings through the Centers for Disease Control. Recently by Dr. Anne Schuchat, who was the head of the Centers for Disease Control in the area, helping with our efforts on coronavirus.
“As she has said, ‘Our aggressive containment strategy here in the United States has been working, and is responsible for the low level of cases that we have so far.’
“Officials at the CDC and the National Institutes of Health are coordinating with other federal officials, they tend to be working round the clock.
“The administration is making sure that state and local officials have all the resources they need to respond.
“Dr. Schuchat has said that our health care system, our businesses, our communities and our schools all have action plans.
“Senators have had a number of briefings from officials at both the Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health.
“They are working on ways to identify the virus, to test for the virus and ways to treat people who are infected by the virus.
“They’re working on quarantines and on a vaccine.
“This is a massive nationwide undertaking.
“There are a number of us, and it was bipartisan, would go as senators to briefings, and we’ve been going to briefings since the time of impeachment. We would have impeachment in the afternoon, and discussions about coronavirus in the morning.
“And at every meeting, we’ve asked the members from the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health: Do you, right now, have the funds you need for the things you need to do right now?
“And at all of those meetings, they said ‘yes, we have what we need.’
“Well now things have changed. Now, they say they need additional funds, and they are right and we agree.
“They need funds for more for testing, for more treatment, for more vaccine development.
“And I believe Congress must act quickly and decisively to protect the public by passing a bipartisan emergency funding bill.
“Both parties agree this effort has to be fully funded.
“We know that the initial numbers that were being discussed were only a starting point. We don’t know what the total number is going to be.
“Our team will continue to have all the funds they need to deal with this disease.
“So, I find it very disturbing to see Democrats, especially those running for president, politicizing the issue.
“The coronavirus is a deadly disease, it’s not a political tool to try to tar and feather President Trump.
“This should not be about Democrat candidates trying to defeat President Trump but about defeating the coronavirus.
“As a doctor, my focus is on the health of the American people.
“So my advice for those who might be watching is this: Cover your mouth when you cough. Wash your hands frequently. If you’re sick, stay home.
“Those are the kind of commonsense things people can do at home not just to prevent the flu, but also to protect themselves against the coronavirus.
“There is no reason for lots of anxiety or for panic.
“As a nation, we’re in the right position to deal with the challenge that we face.
“This administration will continue to do everything in its power to keep America and Americans safe.
“Now it’s time for Congress to do its part, to pass the emergency legislation and get it to the president’s desk.
“Thankfully, we are the most prepared nation to face this challenge.
“We have harnessed all the American energy and ingenuity and expertise that we need for this fight.
“The key is for all of us to remain engaged and to remain vigilant.
“As a doctor, I am confident that we will be able to succeed together.”