House Panel Questions U.S. Quarantine Procedures
Lawmakers Ask Defense Officials, Experts About Length of Quarantine for Troops, Health Workers Returning From West Africa
The chief Homeland Security watchdog ripped the department at a hearing on Friday for not “thinking through” its purchase of millions of dollars’ worth of pandemic response supplies, saying much of the protective gear and drugs are expired or will be soon. Inspector General John Roth testified at a House oversight hearing on Ebola, a health crisis that has sharpened focus on the government’s preparedness for an outbreak — even though officials maintain the likelihood of an Ebola outbreak remains low.
Roth, ahead of the hearing, released an August audit that found the department has “no assurance” it has enough protective equipment and antiviral medication to respond to a pandemic. The findings prompted criticism from lawmakers on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “We spent millions of dollars for a pandemic … We don’t know the inventory, we don’t know who’s got it, and we don’t know who’s gonna get it,” Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., said. Roth responded: “You are correct.”
Roth said the department spent $9.5 million starting in 2006 on pandemic protective equipment, as well as nearly $7 million on antiviral drugs for emergency workers. However, his opening statement and audit faulted the department for not “adequately” conducting an assessment of what they needed. The result, he said, is the department cannot be sure it has enough, and in some cases it might have far too much. For instance, he said the department has 16 million surgical masks, but could not demonstrate the need for that many. He specifically cited the department for having a glut of supplies that is or will soon be expired. He said much of their material has a “finite shelf life” — including thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer, some up to four years expired, and 200,000 respirators that are beyond their five-year usability guarantee.
The audit also found “most” of the antiviral medication is nearing the expiration date. “As a result, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee DHS and components may not have sufficient [protective gear or medication] to provide to the workforce during a pandemic,” the audit says.
Read more at: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/24/issa-ebola-diagnosis-in-new-york-city-particularly-distressing/
Noticeably missing from this House Oversight and Government Reform Committee session was the newly appointed ‘Ebola Czar’ Ron Klain, who sent his regrets on Monday. This Obama appointment prompted Congressman to ask if this administration would consider a doctor or dentist for an appointment to the Supreme Court.