Sen. Mitt Romney criticized the Trump administration Tuesday as being unprepared to adequately handle a potential pandemic of the deadly coronavirus.
Mr. Romney, Utah Republican and staunch critic of President Trump, voiced concerns as U.S. health officials warned about the likelihood of new domestic cases of the coronavirus being confirmed.
“I’m very disappointed in the degree to which we’ve prepared for a pandemic, both in terms of protective equipment and in terms of medical devices that would help people once they are infected,” Mr. Romney said, The Hill reported. “At this stage, I think we are substantially underinvesting in what would be appropriate for a setting which could be serious.”
Sen. Romney expressing concern about admin handling of coronavirus:
"Well I'm disappointed that there's not been stockpiling in prior years of protective equipment…"
"…It would make sense to have a single person who is in charge of our national response…" pic.twitter.com/QKLanrdm4K
— Alan He (@alanhe) February 25, 2020
I will be having a News Conference at the White House, on this subject, today at 6:00 P.M. CDC representatives, and others, will be there. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 26, 2020
Speaking on Capitol Hill, Mr. Romney said the federal government should be doing more to counter the coronavirus and signaled his support for tasking a person to take charge.
“I’d like to see us investing more than we have been and probably more than we’re even planning at this stage to make sure that, in the event that something comes to this country and were to spread, that we’re able to care for our people,” Mr. Romney said in a video shared on Twitter by a CBS News reporter.
“I’d note that this is probably something that justifies having one person in the government who can work across the various departments and agencies to make sure that we have a unified response to protect our citizens,” Mr. Romney said in the video.
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Discovered in China in December, the coronavirus has infected over 80,000 people and has been linked to the deaths of more than 2,600, according to the World Health Organization.
Mr. Trump said this week on Twitter that the coronavirus “is very much under control in the USA” and that both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization “have been working hard and very smart.”
Health officials subsequently indicated during a news briefing Tuesday that new cases of the coronavirus are likely to be confirmed in the U.S. and abroad, however.
“Current global circumstances suggest it’s likely this virus will cause a pandemic,” said Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director. “It’s not so much a question of if this will happen any more, but rather more a question of when this will happen and how many people in this country will become infected and how many of those will develop severe or more complicated disease.”
Mr. Romney, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, confronted members of the Trump administration over its response to the coronavirus during a private briefing held Tuesday on Capitol Hill on the topic, The Hill reported.
Mr. Romney, the GOP presidential nominee in 2012, has been frequently critical of Mr. Trump and was the only Republican to vote to convict him following the president’s Senate impeachment trial this month.
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