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Roe: China should be held accountable for coronavirus cover-up

Hank Hayes • May 1, 2020 at 4:00 PM

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe said Thursday the federal government should hold the Chinese government accountable for its “lies, deceit and inaction,” which allowed the coronavirus to spread rapidly and delayed the international response.

“We went from wide-open businesses searching for employees to 30 million people unemployed,” Roe, R-Tennessee, said of the coronavirus’ impact during a conference call with reporters.

Roe alleged the Chinese government prohibited state media from reporting on the spread of the virus and even misled the public on basic information about the virus.

China, Roe noted, also allowed its business owners with coronavirus symptoms to travel to Italy earlier this spring before the U.S. could shut off travel from Europe.

Congress passed a $2.2 trillion virus relief package for direct aid to citizens, hospitals and other business segments, but that money was gone in two weeks, Roe pointed out.

Roe addressed these questions:

What do you think of Ballad Health’s COVID-19 response?

“I think Ballad Health’s preparation for this has been outstanding. What we’ve done is we’ve almost over responded in certain places. There are literally hundreds of beds empty in the Ballad system and 12 people (with COVID-19) in the hospital. We have some really tough spots in the country with New York, New Jersey and some parts of Connecticut and Massachusetts, and we have a semi-warm spot in Davidson County and Shelby County."

Has the Veterans Administration facility at Mountain Home been impacted?

Roe is the ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.

“There have been nine positive coronavirus cases at the VA at Mountain Home here, none of which are in the hospital. We don’t have a single veteran on a ventilator today right now as I speak in the state of Tennessee. The VA has done a good job of preparing.”

Do you think the Trump administration has the stomach to hold China accountable?

“I do. It’s a delicate balance. They’re a trading partner with $550 billion worth of business, but the president recognized early on. In mid-January, they were telling people this was not person-to-person spread. When they denied there was human-to0human transfer, that created a huge problem. He’s the only president I know that’s gone ahead and negotiated a very tough deal with tariffs that brought the Chinese to the negotiating table.”

What are the federal government’s other options to hold China accountable?

“One is we have got to clamp down on the stealing of intellectual property. That’s one of the things Trump has been really strong on. Two is how many of these foreign students who come over here and become part of the communist apparatus to steal the technology, cut off that.”

Do you think the coronavirus hype has been a big political hoax?

“I think a lot of people think that. We’ve had 60,000 Americans die. That’s a lot of people. I think that as we learn from this, as we will ... any death we have is tragic.”

When will COVID-19 be over?

“I believe that by June 1, we’re going to be feeling pretty good about getting out and doing things. I told the governor (Republican Bill Lee) that what few hairs I have left on my head that I’m going to look like a 1960s hippie if you don’t get some barbershops open pretty soon.”

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