Roe: Trump's order to limit travel was 'right thing to do'

Hank Hayes • Mar 14, 2020 at 12:00 PM

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe said Friday the Trump administration’s response to COVID-19 — also known as the coronavirus — has been fine.

“When he put the (Europe) travel ban on, (Trump) took a lot of grief for that,” Roe, R-Tennessee, said in a conference call with reporters. “And it was absolutely the right thing to do. It made no sense to me to criticize the president because he kept people who might have the virus from coming to this country. And it absolutely bought us time.”

The president’s move to limit international travel helped slow down the coronavirus, Roe stressed.

“If you can limit the speed of the rise in those cases, that doesn’t put pressure on your health care system,” Roe pointed out.

Roe noted that 70% of U.S. coronavirus cases are related to Europe.

Roe and other members of Congress have been getting regular briefings since late January from the Centers for Disease Control, Department of Homeland Security, National Institutes of Health, Health and Human Services and the State Department.

“It’s a steep learning curve and we are learning,” Roe said.

What Roe wasn’t satisfied with was the speed of getting test kits to local health care providers.

Roe, the ranking GOP member on the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, also reported there were two confirmed coronavirus cases within the Veterans Administration.

To put the coronavirus in perspective, Roe said there have been 34 million to 49 million cases of seasonal flu that have resulted in more than 20,000 deaths.

Roe also addressed these questions:

Why is there so much hysteria over the coronavirus?

“I think a lot of that has to do with social media, 24-hour cable TV, that sort of thing. We’re going to get through this.”

Where does our effort to develop a vaccine stand?

“We met last week with seven or eight of the large pharmaceutical companies that deal with these issues. (They) thought that one vaccine candidate will be available for human testing in as little as a month. Phase one trials will be about 40-50 people. Then you go into phase two trials, which is 800, 1,000 or more people. I don’t think we will be ready by next fall. A year is light speed.”