WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Officials from The Centers for Disease Control testified before a congressional committee Thursday to update lawmakers on the effort to combat coronavirus.
Their focus has shifted from the global impact of the virus to its presence here on American soil.
“Our goal is to keep America safe and to slow the introduction of this virus,” said Robert Redfield, the Director of the CDC.
Leaders from the CDC say it’s not a matter of if, but when the coronavirus spreads into clusters of cases here in the U.S.
“That’s probably inevitable at this point,” said Rep. Ami Bera, D-Calif.
Congressman Bera chaired a hearing with CDC officials Thursday.
Bera urged the Trump Administration to push China to allow CDC doctors to areas where the outbreak started.
“You have to get into the hot zone, you have to get into the epicenter to really figure out what’s going on,” Rep. Bera said.
Health officials testified it may require tens of billions of dollars from Congress to prepare for and fight the disease.
And they’re not ruling out mass quarantines.
“Our response involves multilayered, aggressive containment. And potential mitigation measures as needed,” Redfield said.
Officials say those plans are especially important now that a California coronavirus patient seems to have caught the disease here in the U.S.
“At first it would be about, if you were in that region in China,” said House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
Rep. McCarthy says the CDC’s working to expand its testing for the disease.
“I assume they’re reassessing that and looking to make sure others, if it’s appropriate, have that test,” he said.
McCarthy says the administration will continue to support the CDC and lead the global effort to fight the spread of the virus.