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DHS secretary can't answer basic questions on coronavirus at Senate hearing

Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf had a hard time answering questions from a Republican senator about the spread of the deadly virus.

By Oliver Willis - February 25, 2020
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Department Homeland Security acting Secretary Chad Wolf

Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of Homeland Security, struggled to give clear answers on several key issues regarding the novel coronavirus during his testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday.

There have been over 80,000 reported coronavirus cases and over 2,700 deaths. Markets plunged Monday in reaction to the virus spreading across the world and negatively affecting travel and productivity in multiple nations.

At the hearing, Wolf appeared unprepared to discuss the data about the spread of the virus in the United States, or the government’s preparedness, during questioning by Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA).

“You can’t tell us how many your models are anticipating?” Kennedy asked.

“No, senator,” Wolf said and referred Kennedy to the Department of Health and Human Services. He added that a task force has been convened to deal with the topic.

“Don’t you think you ought to check on that, as the head of Homeland Security?” Kennedy asked. Wolf said that he would and that there were task forces working on the issue.

“I’m all for committees and task forces,” Kennedy responded, “but you’re the secretary, I think you ought to know that answer.”

A few minutes later, Wolf was unable to tell Kennedy whether the country has enough respirators for physicians and patients in the event of an outbreak.

“I would refer you to HHS on that,” Wolf said.

“You’re the secretary of Homeland Security, and you can’t tell me if we have enough respirators,” Kennedy replied.

After Wolf said his department is working with others to find the response, Kennedy interjected. “You don’t know the answer, do you?”

Wolf also told Kennedy that not enough face masks for the American public had been obtained and that he did not know how many needed to be purchased.

“You’re asking me a number of medical questions,” Wolf protested.

“I’m asking you questions as the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. And you’re supposed to keep us safe. And you need to know the answers to these questions,” Kennedy said.

After Wolf said it would be “several months” until a vaccine for coronavirus would be available, Kennedy said, “That’s not what we just heard testimony about.”

Kennedy noted to Wolf that the numbers relating to virus preparation he cited during his testimony weren’t matching up.

“You’re supposed to keep us safe. And the American people deserve some straight answers on the coronavirus, and I’m not getting them from you,” Kennedy concluded.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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