On CNN’s Wednesday broadcast of “Wolf,” Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations subcommittee laid out to host Wolf Blitzer the areas where he expects to have questions answered in his subcommittee’s hearing on Ebola scheduled for Thursday.
From the Center for Disease Control, Murphy said he anticipates hearing about how the organization is preparing hospitals for potential Ebola cases and said he expect to be able to lend bipartisan support to those efforts.
“Well, the thing we need to learn is do we have a stable strategy yet on several levels,” he said. “Hospital training, where patients need to go. We’re going to be asking questions about travel, travel restrictions, asking questions about what is being done in Africa. And of course asking questions, what Congress needs to do to facilitate. I was on the phone with Dr. Frieden yesterday. And I said to him, ‘Please let us know if we need to do something.’ I’m sure there will be widespread bipartisan cooperation to work with the administration to come up with solutions here. I think there are several areas we are concerned about. We don’t know if hospitals are equipped let alone trained at this time. When I’ve talked to some hospital administrators, they say, quite frankly, we don’t know what we would do because we may be overwhelmed by one case and don’t know what we would do. We don’t think there’s adequate transportation mechanisms set up for patients who do have Ebola — bringing them from overseas. So we want to know what are the plans in the works coming up, too, dealing with the United States and in Africa.”
From the Obama administration, Murphy expressed his desire to hear about travel concerns, in particular flight restrictions involving Ebola-affected countries and potential Ebola patients.
“Well, it is one of the important things,” Murphy said. “What are we going to do about travel? Do we restrict all travel from West Africa at this point? Are the screenings going to be adequate? I don’t think they are. Do we have some sort of — once someone comes back to the United States as a U.S. citizen, they’re on house quarantine or restrict their travel? These are questions the American people want to know because worry has set in pretty deeply and anxiety about travel, going to hospitals are all a great worry. So it is important the commander-in-chief talk about what is happening with the military in Africa and that the president is talking about what is happening to calm people’s fears when it comes to the CDC giving continued accurate information on this, which seems to be changing day by day.”
The Pennsylvania Republican also wanted to know about the U.S. military involvement in Liberia and what steps they will be taking to help get a grasp on the situation in West Africa.
“Well, we don’t know and we need to find out the answers to that,” he added. “In some case, they’re not going to be going anywhere near villages, structures or clinics, etc. But in other cases, we’re not going to be able to combat this unless people go into the villages, provide supplies to the people in the villages, teach them the basics of hygiene and sanitation which they may not know. We know some charitable organizations are buckets and gloves and chlorine bleach and masks to teach people how they need to culturally handle bodies differently, how to clean things differently. And if our soldiers are doing the same thing, it’s going to be a situation where we’re going to have to make sure that they’re protects. And following from that, what happens if they do show symptoms of Ebola? Do we even have the capacity to bring them back here? Right now, it appears that capacity is only about one person at a time with a several day turnaround time. And that’s not a very comforting situation.”
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