(CNSNews.com) – The Trump administration’s approach to combating the coronavirus is akin to saying, “take two aspirin and call us in the morning,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said Tuesday.
In early February, the administration issued a travel ban on foreign nationals entering the U.S. who traveled to China in the past 14 days and imposed a mandatory 14-day quarantine for any U.S. citizen who recently traveled to China’s Hubei province – the epicenter of the outbreak, The Hill reported.
Blumenthal said that if travel bans were effective, he would support them.
“I think if travel bans have proven effective, I would favor them. Right now the administration’s approach is disastrously inadequate. The approach right now seems to be take two aspirin and call us in the morning. The supplemental is way below what’s needed to protect the American people against an outbreak,” the senator told reporters on Capitol Hill following a classified briefing on the coronavirus.
“There would be an outcry and uproar if the American people heard what we have been told, and I believe the administration has a real obligation to tell the American people what it is telling us behind closed doors,” Blumenthal said.
When asked to characterize the areas of concern that were raised during the briefing, he said, “The areas of my concern go to the preparedness, prevention, and other steps that need to be taken to protect the American people.
“Protection, preparedness, prevention all seem to be inadequate right now given my impression that an outbreak here - at least an increase in the number of cases – seems virtually inevitable. And I can give you my impressions, but I can’t tell you what I was told, which is really abhorrent,” the senator said.
Blumenthal said that the decision to make the briefing classified “is inexplicable and inexcusable” and he’s “at a loss to know why it is.”
When asked whether what he heard in the briefing was consistent with President Donald Trump’s assertion that the coronavirus is under control in the U.S., that people that have it are getting better, and they’re close to a vaccine, Blumenthal said, “There’s money in the supplemental for developing a vaccine.
“I hope we’re close to it, but there’s no factual evidence that in fact we are on the verge of discovering an effective vaccine, let alone making it available to the people who need it, and the numbers of cases right now is unchanged over recent days, but history tells us that outbreaks can occur very quickly,” the senator said.
“What is most alarming here is the spread to other countries – Iran, Italy, and countries that are seeing it in much larger numbers, and so the impression I have based on what I was told – it’s only my impression – is that we will see more outbreaks in this country,” he said.
“There was no indication that they have plans to seek more funding beyond the supplemental, the $2.5 billion. About $1.5 billion or around that amount as you know is going to develop a vaccine, but there are no specific plans to spend or ask for more money,” Blumenthal said.