Sen. Cruz: The United States Must Marshal Every Resource Necessary to Protect Life and Contain the Coronavirus
Appears on CNBCs Squawk Box ahead of subcommittee hearing on role of aviation industry in reducing spread of coronavirus
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation and Space, today appeared on CNBC's ‘Squawk Box' ahead of his hearing on the role commercial air travel plays in containing the spread of coronavirus and steps the U.S. can take to prevent further outbreaks.
WATCH: Cruz on Coronavirus: US Must Be Driven By Facts, Marshal Every Resource Necessary to Protect Life
When asked about the coronavirus' spread in the United States, Sen. Cruz said:
"What's important is that we actually follow the science here. That we listen to the scientists and the experts and that we do everything we can to contain this outbreak and prevent it from becoming a full-fledged pandemic. The numbers are troubling and we're right to be concerned. As we sit here this morning, we've got over 93,000 confirmed cases of the virus. We have over 3,100, nearly 3,200 confirmed deaths. Of the cases of the virus, we're sitting at just 127 in the United States. So the bulk of that is overseas and the overwhelming majority of that is still in China. That's good news. That is good news to the extent to which it's been contained."
Sen. Cruz continued, outlining his expectations for the hearing he's chairing this afternoon:
"The hearing that I'm chairing this afternoon is to bring in the CDC, the Center for Disease Control, and the Department of Transportation, and Customs and Border Protection, to really listen to the experts and to understand what's going on.
"I know a lot of people are concerned. But I think it's right not to panic and not to give in to hysteria, but to be driven by the facts and to marshal every resource possible and necessary to protect life, to contain this, and hopefully to get it behind us. And once we take care of threats to human life, then the next stage will be the economic implications of what the slow down means. In particular, right now, the inability to travel back and forth to Asia and to China."
When asked about the aviation industry's role in preventing the spread of the coronavirus, Sen. Cruz commended the Trump administration for halting commercial air travel to and from China, saying:
"I think that the Trump administration acted wisely when they stepped in early and halted commercial air travel back and forth to China and when they set up a quarantine regime for any Americans who were abroad in the affected region to go through quarantine before coming back. Those are both extraordinary steps. [...] I was visiting with Tony Fauci yesterday. The health experts are telling us that doing that significantly slowed down the spread of the virus. That if we hadn't done that, if there had been unrestricted air travel back and forth from China from the time of the outbreak to now, that we would in all likelihood be looking at a significantly larger number of cases in the United States."
He continued, outlining some of the challenges facing the airline industry:
"Part of the challenge is that the incubation period we don't fully know. We think it may be 14 days, although there's some conflicting evidence on that. That's going to be one of the questions that we're going to address at the hearing today. [...]
"I met with the head of the Airline Association yesterday, and they were talking about some of the challenges they're finding implementing what the CDC is asking for in terms of getting the full travel history of every international passenger. And I think that they're working hard to do that. One of the challenges is also that CDC is wanting airline employees to take temperatures of passengers before they board. Airline employees, naturally, are hesitant to do so. They're not health care professionals and so some of the ticket agents are saying, ‘Wait a second, why am I taking a temperature?' That seems a reasonable question for an employee, an airline employee, to be asking. So how we get the necessary protections in place is going to be a challenge going forward."
As chairman of the Subcommittee on Aviation and Space and member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Cruz has led the effort to protect the health of the flying public and all Americans since the outbreak was first reported. Specifically, Sen. Cruz:
• In January, called for a travel ban to and from China, as well as advanced screenings at U.S. airports.
• Sent a letter with Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and other members to the World Health Organization concerning Taiwan's exclusion from the World Health Organization.
• In February, sent a letter to the United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) calling for Taiwan to be fully included in the international response to coronavirus.
• Participated in a roundtable discussion with the Coalition of Airline Pilots Association, where he commended their efforts to contain the coronavirus.
• Held a bipartisan briefing for members of the Commerce Committee to hear from officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the World Health Organization (WHO) about how the U.S. government is working with other countries on a coordinated, global response, to this public health crisis and what more Congress can do to prevent further outbreaks.
• Sent a letter with Sens. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan requesting information on the agency's readiness to prevent the transmission of coronavirus across American ports of entry.
• This week, sent a letter with Sen. Cornyn to get answers about the incident in San Antonio, when an individual was released from isolation at Lackland, despite testing positive for the coronavirus.
TUNE IN: Sen. Cruz to chair "From SARS to Coronavirus: Examining the Role of Global Aviation in Containing the Spread of Infectious Disease" at 2:30 p.m. ET in the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation and Space