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Walker Requests Coronavirus Update from DHS After China Covers Up Infection Information

March 2, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Representative Mark Walker (R-N.C.) today released the following statement after sending a letter to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf requesting an update on the federal response to the COVID-19 outbreak:

“The humanitarian, security and health threats personified in the coronavirus are being exacerbated by authoritarian socialist policies and the dishonesty of foreign aggressors and abusers. With each passing day, it becomes more evident that border security is paramount. As we continue to serve other countries looking for solutions, it is imperative to know who and what is entering our own."

The letter cites emerging outbreaks in countries outside of China – including Italy, Spain, and Iran. Walker requested updates on how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has worked with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the U.S Coast Guard to ensure that travelers coming through airports, land ports or other passenger vessels are properly screened.

Walker’s letter also addresses the allegations of suspected disinformation and coverups from countries like China and Iran to ensure that the United States has the most up-to-date and accurate information on the global reach of this outbreak.

The letter comes before two key hearings in the House Committee on Homeland Security this week. On Tuesday, Wolf will testify as the DHS budget for Fiscal Year 2021 is considered. On Wednesday, the committee will hear from a panel of healthcare workers and government officials on the response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Walker is the Ranking Member for the Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism.

Read the full text of the letter here and below:

Dear Acting Secretary Wolf:
 
I am writing regarding recent developments in the Coronavirus outbreak.  First off, I applaud actions your department has taken to analyze threat levels and contain any spread of the Coronavirus in the U.S., such as supporting enhanced health screenings for travelers with recent visits to China. However, this emerging threat has become much more widespread than originally reported, with 35 countries confirming cases and severe outbreaks in Italy, Spain, and Iran.
 
To make matters worse, countries such as China and Iran are suspected of spreading disinformation and hiding the extent of the outbreak. In fact, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is accused of covering up the number of infected individuals and the attributable deaths to the virus. These actions have made the outbreak worse and endangered the rest of the world who are unable to take the appropriate and necessary actions to respond. I am requesting a response to several questions in response to these developments:
                       
 

  • Have officers facilitating the CDC in implementing enhanced health screenings at airports shifted their mission to begin examining and screening travelers arriving from areas other than Wuhan or other parts of China? If so, which other locations, and when did these screenings begin?

 

  • How is DHS, including CBP and the U.S. Coast Guard, working with the CDC to vet the 700,000 individuals arriving daily in the U.S. though land ports and the tens of thousands of others who arrive on passenger vessels who may be carrying the virus?

 

  • In what ways is DHS combatting suspected disinformation and coverups from other countries to ensure both a) U.S. public health officials have the necessary information to take appropriate reactive and proactive measures to ensure that an outbreak does not occur in the U.S. and b) warn U.S. citizens about the risks of traveling to these locations?

 

  • On February 25, top Federal health authorities from the CDC said they now expect a wider spread and are preparing for a potential pandemic. What proactive measures is DHS taking to coordinate with the CDC should such an outbreak occur?