Feb 27 2020

Graham Meets with CDC Director on Coronavirus Response

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today met with Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Robert Redfield to discuss the CDC response to recent developments in the coronavirus outbreak.

Graham said:

“Today in my office, CDC Director Redfield and I had a constructive meeting regarding the need to immediately contain the coronavirus, treat those who may be impacted, and begin developing a long term plan for future outbreaks. 

“I have confidence in Director Redfield, who has a 23-year military background, and his team at the CDC. I will continue to support the urgent needs of the CDC as well as state and local governments to effectively address the spread and prevention of this deadly virus.

“I am confident the Trump administration is taking appropriate action to prevent the spread of the coronavirus throughout the United States. However, there are many unanswered questions and it is imperative Congress provides appropriate supplemental funding to build up our capacity to deal with the consequences of coronavirus in the United States.

“The goal is to contain the virus and, over time, develop a vaccine.

“During our conversation, I also discussed with CDC Director Redfield the need to have a more forward-deployed presence for the CDC throughout the world. Pandemics overseas can eventually come here.  I view the CDC as the tip of the spear to protect the United States from communicable diseases and other worldwide health threats.

“The Director told me the CDC has four deployed offices throughout the world. Those are not sufficient numbers given the threats we face from coronavirus, other naturally occurring healthcare problems, and the potential for international terrorism in the biological arena.  The CDC agreed to present to me a plan to expand their forward-deployed presence, which should be beneficial in dealing with coronavirus as well as other potential threats.  I will seek opportunities, working with my Democratic and Republican colleagues, to build out our forward-deployed defenses in any supplemental appropriations request, which comes before the Congress.

“Finally, the Director mentioned that a number of emerging healthcare threats occur in non-permissive environments who have weak governments and systems, where the lack of, or mistrust of, security prevents medical professionals from getting on the ground in an effective fashion.  The Director urged that we begin to develop more intense collaboration between the CDC and Department of Defense so we have the ability to get on the ground and stop the spread of disease before it effects American interests.

“I look at this collaboration as a national security imperative and will be working with my colleagues to build out this framework.  I believe we can find a home in DOD for this mission.  We need to have the ability for deployable DOD/CDC assets to go wherever the threat may lie, including non-permissive environments.”