Georgia’s U.S. senators say the state is prepared to handle coronavirus

From left, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat, National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dr. Robert Kadlec, and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn testify before a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Hearing on the coronavirus on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Credit: Andrew Harnik

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From left, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat, National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dr. Robert Kadlec, and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn testify before a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Hearing on the coronavirus on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Credit: Andrew Harnik

Credit: Andrew Harnik

U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler spent much of Tuesday receiving updates on the coronavirus outbreak.

She is a member of the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee that held a hearing about the public health emergency in the morning, and she also had a private meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo where the deadly respiratory disease was among the topics they discussed.

Over lunch, Loeffler and other senators met with Vice President Mike Pence who is leading the coronavirus task force.

“The government has reacted quickly and appropriately and we’re working on additional funding to start addressing all the countermeasures that we need to undertake,” Loeffler said. “So, whether its testing, vaccinations or treatment, all of that work is going on.”

Loeffler said that includes work at the Atlanta-based U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which she learned is partnering with Georgia Tech on an initiative to improve the sharing of coronavirus data and analysis.

She also said 1,500 private companies have formed a consortium to address the drug and testing needs of coronavirus.

Georgia’s other senator, David Perdue, also attended the lunchtime briefing with Pence, and he said the vice president is aware of the cases in Georgia and working to ensure there are proper resources.

“The quarantines and the early restrictions on travel have bought us several weeks in terms of getting up on this,” Perdue said. “The number of testing packages is going up exponentially.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. government is working to relax its rules to speed up the regulatory process to get a coronavirus vaccine on the market, Perdue said.

Leaders of the House and Senate are privately negotiating the terms of emergency coronavirus spending, and both chambers could vote on the final package by the end of the week.

Loeffler and Perdue both said the risk to Americans remains low even if the virus is more deadly than the common flu. They said Georgians should continue to follow instructions from public health officials to lower the risk of spreading infectious disease.

» THE LATEST: Complete coverage of coronavirus in Georgia

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