Washington – Today, in a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on COVID-19 response efforts, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) fought for rural communities, raised questions about the Federal Bureau of Prison’s (BOP) quarantine practices as it transfers inmates to Thomson Prison, and advocated for uninsured and underinsured Americans. After President Trump blocked Dr. Anthony Fauci from testifying, the subcommittee heard from Dr. Tom Frieden, former Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Dr. Caitlin Rivers, Senior Scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
“While much of rural America saw a delay in impact, we know that COVID-19 does not respect borders. As Congress continues to focus our efforts on COVID-19, our rural communities must not be left behind,” said Congresswoman Bustos, a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. “That’s why I took this opportunity today to raise the unique challenges that face districts like the one I serve. From increasing access to health care to providing support to small and rural towns, voices from the Heartland must be heard as we continue to work to weather this storm.”
During the testimony, Congresswoman Bustos raised questions about the BOP’s quarantine practices. In response, Dr. Frieden noted that the best practice would be to minimize transfers between locations, while Dr. Rivers spoke to the importance of testing.
“The best practice would be to minimize transfers, first and foremost,” said Dr. Frieden. “Anytime you’re mixing more people, you’re creating the possibility of explosive spread…The challenge is that we recognize that there are a lot of asymptomatic people, some of them pre-symptomatic – they’ll develop symptoms in the next couple of days – and some of them will remain asymptomatic, and they do appear to be able to spread the infection. That’s why even symptom screening will be a problem.
“In every congregate facility, we need a comprehensive approach to reducing the risk that the virus will get in, increasing the likelihood we’ll find it quickly if it does and improving our ability to stop it if it’s spreading widely if its spreading.”
Congresswoman Bustos also raised questions about the potential cost of COVID-19 treatment and how uninsured and underinsured Americans might be impacted by a potential diagnosis. Last month, the Congresswoman, along with Congressman Doggett (D-TX) and Congresswoman Wild (D-PA) introduced legislation to require a special ACA enrollment period for COVID-19.