ATLANTA — Sen. Kelly Loeffler asked CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield about "the cover-up and the misinformation coming from China" during her time in Tuesday's Senate hearing on reopening.
It was one of two questions the Georgia Republican presented during the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing. Dr. Redfield and Dr. Anthony Fauci were among the officials testifying before the committee.
"Dr. Redfield, Georgians are wondering how we got here today - 1,400 deaths, a third of Georgia's workforce out of work. I'm incredibly concerned about the cover-up and the misinformation coming from China and their efforts to suppress life-saving information at the outset of this outbreak," Loeffler said. "As we continue to reopen our economy safely, we have to take steps to ensure that another outbreak cannot take hold of the world in this way. I understand CDC has worked with the Chinese CDC on global health security for decades. Can you comment on the level and the timing of the information that you received and relied upon from your Chinese counterparts as this virus emerged?"
Redfield said he had spoken with his Chinese CDC counterpart as early as Jan. 3 as the outbreak emerged, and that "on a scientific level, we had very good interaction" with Chinese experts.
He added, however, "that's different than the broader Chinese government level."
President Trump and his allies have focused blame for the pandemic on the Chinese government, saying it worked to obscure the initial seriousness of the outbreak in order to preserve the sense that President Xi Jinping had it under control.
Several reports have indicated local officials in Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus originated, worked to keep the central Chinese government from understanding the early outbreak's true breadth, for fear of upsetting Beijing.
In her second question, Loeffler asked the officials testifying - Dr. Redfield, Dr. Fauci, FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn and Trump administration coronavirus testing czar Adm. Brett Giroir, whether they had a "confrontational" relationship with the president.
"There is certainly not a confrontational relationship between me and the president," Fauci answered. "As I've mentioned many times, I give advice and opinion based on evidence-based, scientific information. He hears that, he respects it. He gets opinions from a variety of other people, but in no way in my experience over the last several months has there been any confrontational relationship between us."
The other three officials also answered that they would not characterize their relationship as confrontational.
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