U.S. Congressman Tom Cole | E-Newsletter
SPECIAL DISTRICT UPDATE | March 1, 2020 Click here if you have trouble viewing this email
U.S. Congressman Tom Cole
As you might know if you follow my updates on social media, I film weekly videos about what Congress is working on and what is happening in the news while I'm in DC for legislative session. With the coronavirus remaining front and center and particularly with some conflicting viewpoints and incorrect information out there on the issue, that topic was the sole focus of my lengthy video on Friday.

I hope you'll take a few moments to listen to my thoughts on how the situation is being handled here and read on for some additional information.
 

The U.S. Response Has Not Been Delayed

First off, and as I explained several weeks back in The Wall Street Journal, Congress thankfully began preparing for public health emergencies like the coronavirus five years ago, shaping policies and prioritizing investment in infectious disease readiness. That included generous increases each year for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Strategic National Stockpile of medications and other medical supplies.

Beyond those yearly increases, the Republican-led Congress in 2018 established the Infectious Disease Rapid Response Reserve Fund. As the former Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that includes NIH and CDC, I proposed and advocated for the start of this emergency fund so that our public health defenders could draw these funds immediately to protect American lives – not having to wait on Congress to provide supplemental emergency funds. And that's exactly what our public health defenders have been able to do during these first critical weeks. 
 
Because Congress already had vital public health tools in place, the Trump Administration has been able to direct a swift and decisive response to protect our citizens from day one. Moreover, President Trump made the wise decision early on to order travel restrictions and quarantines, which effectively bought our country some extra time. And every step of the way, the Administration has kept Congress informed on what is known about the virus and what steps are underway, including NIH working to develop a vaccine as quickly as possible. 

In case you missed it last week, I spoke at length during a hearing with HHS Secretary Alex Azar about how the U.S. response to the coronavirus has been far from delayed – despite some erroneous claims to the contrary. 
While there's still a long road ahead, it is good news that the U.S. response has been swift, thanks to the tools Congress began readying five years ago and that the president has used decisively well. 

Additional funding will certainly be needed to continue protecting our communities, and I am confident Congress will move quickly to provide whatever is needed to protect American lives.

 
Practical Precautions You Can Take 
While the risk to the American people is still comparatively low, it's important to plan ahead and take precautions similar to protecting against the seasonal flu or respiratory illness – like washing your hands a lot, covering your mouth when you cough and staying home when you're sick.

For more guidance and the latest updates, I encourage you to regularly check the CDC's website here or Twitter here

Thank you for taking the time to read this update. It is an honor to serve as your representative. Please contact my office if you need assistance with a federal agency, to request tours, to place U.S. flag orders, to sign up for future telephone town halls or simply to share your opinions and feedback.

Sincerely,
Tom Cole
Member of Congress



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MEDIA CENTER
Vice President Pence to Lead U.S Coronavirus Response
(February 27, 2020)
Vice President Mike Pence clearly has the trust and confidence of President Trump in directing the multi-agency effort to contain and stop spread of COVID-19. As my good friend and former colleague, I am particularly pleased to see him serve in this position. I am confident that Vice President Pence will lead with professionalism, energy and transparency.
Read more
 
Ready to Combat COVID-19
(February 19, 2020)
This isn’t the first time an infectious disease – like coronavirus – somewhere else in the world has posed a public and global health threat. In recent years, our dedicated public health defenders have been on the front lines of rapidly monitoring and responding to disease outbreaks of the Ebola and Zika viruses. It was amid such outbreaks that Congress began shaping policies and prioritizing investment in public health readiness and infectious disease response resources.
Read more in my column 
 
Top Appropriators Granger, Cole on U.S Response to Coronavirus
(February 12, 2020)

I greatly appreciate the Administration’s efforts in keeping Congress informed on the unfolding situation with the coronavirus. Thanks to the Infectious Disease Rapid Response Reserve Fund established by Congress, I am grateful that the CDC has not been slowed down in addressing the urgent needs thus far. 
Read more
 
WSJ: Thanks to Congress, America Is Prepared for the Coronavirus
(January 31, 2020)

Commentators delight in portraying legislators as incapable of working together across party lines, but bipartisanship and institutional foresight have made the nation more prepared to deal with an outbreak like the coronavirus than we were even five years ago.
Read more in my WSJ op-ed
 
Check out the Media Center on my website for more of my recent statements 
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