WASHINGTON, DC (NEXSTAR) — The members of Congress are once again at odds concerning how the administration of President Trump is handling COVID-19 and the plan that has been put in place. Many Democrat representatives are desiring a national, more concrete plan while Republican representatives believe the plan in place is working efficiently.
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-SC, and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-LA, are the top members on the House panel investigating the pandemic.
“Give America a comprehensive, national plan,” said House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-SC.
“That’s a politcal narrative and a false political narrative,” said House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-LA.
The nation’s top health experts testified during its hearing Friday about additional measures the U.S. needs to take to get a handle on the virus that has now claimed more than 150,000 American lives.
“Here are a few of the documents that your agencies have published to show states how to safely reopen, to show schools how to safely reopen,” Scalise said holding a large stack of papers.
Scalise said this guidance from the administration effectively outlines plans for testing, reopening and developing vaccines, but Clyburn had his own prop, a graph of coronavirus cases in the U.S. and Europe, that he said proves the administration’s strategies aren’t working.
“It shows just how much worse the outbreak has been in the United States,” Clyburn said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci explained cases remain higher in the U.S. than Europe, in part, because those countries shut down more than 95 percent.
“Even though we shut down, even though it created a great deal of difficulty, we really functionally shut down only about 50 percent,” Fauci said.
Fauci told lawmakers some states didn’t reopen properly and continue to ignore recommendations from CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield on wearing face masks and avoiding crowds.
“We are not defenseless now,” Redfield said. “We have powerful tools… if all of us embrace these tools, we will get a handle on this pandemic.”
Democrats still want to see more focus on a national testing strategy, but the country’s testing czar, Adm. Brett Giroir, said the U.S. can’t test its way out of a pandemic.
“A negative test does not mean you won’t be positive tomorrow,” Giroir said. “A negative test does not substitute for avoiding crowds or wearing a mask.”
The health officials said the only guarantee against the virus are vaccines, some of which have moved to the final testing stage.
“We are cautiously optimistic that this will be successful,” Fauci said.
Fauci said there should be an answer in winter on whether one of the vaccines works.