HomeWashington Letter2020 ▶ House Panel Holds Hearing on COVID-19 Response
House Panel Holds Hearing on COVID-19 Response

On May 6, the House Appropriations Committee’s Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS) Subcommittee , chaired by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), held a hearing, ”COVID-19 Response.” The hearing featured witness testimony from Tom Friedan, MD, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and current president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, as well as Caitlin Rivers, PhD, MPH, epidemiologist and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. The hearing took place with only 7 of the 13 subcommittee members present, due to recommendations from the Office of the Attending Physician as well as travel concerns for members.

Both Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK) began the hearing stating that they wished Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), had been permitted to testify at the hearing by the Trump administration, citing that Dr. Fauci had testified before the subcommittee many times in the past, and that they pride themselves on staying largely nonpartisan as a subcommittee. Dr. Friedan stressed the importance of social distancing, and the “Box It In” strategy being the next important step in the COVID-19 response. “Box It In” calls for the following four steps to suppress the spread of the coronavirus:

  • Test widely.
  • Isolate all infected people.
  • Find everyone who has been in contact with infected people.
  • Quarantine everyone who has been in contact with the virus for 14 days.

Dr. Rivers highlighted three key COVID-19 related capacities that the country must prioritize:

  • Diagnostic Testing Capacity: Dr. Rivers cited studies showing the need for at least 3.5 million testing capacity per week.
  • Contact Tracing Capacity: The ability to trace contact with the virus allows experts to guide the national response moving forward.
  • Health care Capacity: Cannot allow health care systems to be overwhelmed once stay at home orders begin phasing out.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, chaired by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) plans to hold a May 12 hearing on COVID-19 response at which Dr. Fauci and CDC Director Redfield are scheduled to testify. 

Last Reviewed: May 2020