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tv   CDC Director Surgeon General Others Testify on COVID Response  CSPAN  April 5, 2022 1:53am-3:26am EDT

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helps support our nonprofit operations. the c-span spring sale now through tuesday only on c-span scanned the code on the left to start shopping now. cdc director wilensky and u.s. surgeon general were in front of the house select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis to testify about the omicron sub variant booster shots and other issues related to the pandemic. the hearing runs an hour and a half. >> without objection the chair is authorized the recess of the committee at any time. i now recognize myself bring an opening statement. this is a hearing of the select subcommittee on the coronavirus
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crisis. when we were established in april of 2020 we were experiencing the worst public health crisis since the 1918 flu pandemic and experiencing the worst economic crisis since the greatsi depression. today, while there are still significant oversights in response to the crisis for theth select committee to conduct, the word crisis no longer accurately describes the coronavirus in our country. as president biden declared in the state of the union address, the coronavirus may no longer control our lives,." this statement is based on sound
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science. recent cdc recommendations provided the mitigation measures like mask mandates were not needed in counties with low or medium covid-19 levels. cdc [inaudible] based on the recommendation, mask mandates are currently not needed in counties where more than 99% of americans live. across the country, schools are open. businesses are thriving and the americanan people are safely gog about their pre- pandemic lives. make no mistake, we cannot move beyond the crisis by chance. it's a result of deliberate policy decisions and decisive
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leadership of the biden administration. and if congress fails to provide the administration the resources needed to continue to combat the virus, we increase the risk that we will return to a crisis. i look forward to hearing more from the officials about the success of getting to this point and how we can build on the success moving forward. as we begin the discussion, it is essential that we discuss how we got here. within days of taking office, president biden rescued a campaign that had been chaotic andgn floundering under the prir administration. the american rescue plan
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provided the necessary resources to go to every community in the country including the most underserved. even in the face it's been legitimized by too many of my colleagues the biden administration has been a story of success. there is a visual that i would like for you to take a look at and as it reflects today more than 200 to 17 million americans are fully vaccinated. according to a recent study, these vaccinations that prevented 10 million hospitalizations and saved more than 1 million lives. thanks to the action by the
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administration, the distribution of the vaccines to community health centers that help close those gaps, these have been shared equitably. the american rescue plan also enabled the biden administration to provide schools the resources they needed to stay open safely, to make lifesaving treatment available for free and to launch an unprecedented program that sent millions of coronavirus tests to american households after the highly infectious omicron variant emerged late last year. this has enabled us to emerge from the crisis phase of the pandemic. coronavirus hospitalizations are
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lower than they've been in nine months just because we have moved beyond the crisis doesn't mean we willll automatically sty below the crisis. earlier this month, after releasing the covid-19 preparedness plan, there was a comprehensive strategy to protect, prepare for new variants and serve schools and businesses to stay safe and continuels leading the global vaccination efforts. this plan, however, is not self executing. congress must provide resources for its implementation. if congress does not act
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swiftly, we risk losing valuable tools that have allowed us to go beyond the crisis. these increase the risk of the crisis returning. act, the fedet will no longer be able to make monoclonal antibody treatments available for free. we risk losing our capacity demand, leaving us vulnerable to new variants, and may drive more infections. if additional booster shots are needed for everyone, we would not be able to secure enough doses, and the administration
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would be forced to scale back -- the administration will be forced to scale back its purchase of coronavirus treatments for our most vulnerable citizens. these are just some of the disastrous consequences of inaction. i reiterate what i said earlier this month, to my colleagues concerned about the cost, when it comes to covid crisis, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. i want to thank our witnesses for testifying today. i particularly want to thank you
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for allowing us to reschedule the hearing to accommodate congressman don young's memorial service yesterday. while we were looking forward to looking -- seeing you in person, we are fortunate to have the ability to hear from you virtually. i look forward to hearing more about the new face of the pandemic, the biden administration's covid-19 preparedness plan and how america will be impacted if we do not receive the necessary funding. thank you, i will yield to the ranking member for his opening statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate you having this hearing. i'm glad the administration officials are here to testify at this public hearing before the
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subcommittee. it has been a while since we had this kind of testimony. i appreciate you joining us. i would like to note that we also invited dr. anthony fauci, and the director of the national institute of infectious diseases, regrettably, he sent this letter that he was unable to attend because he would need to be invited by the chairman, with permission from the biden administration. hopefully you will invite dr. fauci. i think we all went to hear from him. it has been 309 days since we heard dr. fauci testify before any committee in the house. i don't know what -- if speaker pelosi is trying to silence dr. fauci. he is not allowed to come. i think he should be part of this hearing. i hope we rectify that soon. it is important to hear from the
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witnesses today about the current state of covid and planning for the future. i think we need to address the elephant in the room. the public has lost a lot of trust in public health officials in the last two years. we have seen the states, power grabbing, and political interference with the science during this last year and a half. i hope the witnesses will address the following issues directly today. there is a long list of controversies that the american public looking for answers from. i would like to name just a few, and i hope we could have the witnesses address them in either their remarks or during questioning. first, it was uncovered that there was direct political interference with cdc's school reopening guidance. president biden's cdc discarded historical practices to allow a radical teachers union, the just so happens to be a major
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supporter of democrats, to bypass agency norms and directly change official cdc guidance. the damaging edits by union bosses effectively kept thousands of schools shuttered across the country, which lacked millions of children out of their classrooms. the biden administration abandoned medical science and replaced it with political science. and gave unprecedented vip access to one of their largest supporters, harming millions of children in the process. mr. chairman, a lot of this was documented through some of the testimony we received and house republicans put together a summary of this in a report that we released. i would like to ask unanimous consent to include this report in the record. i note mr. chairman, we provided you with a copy.
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chair clyburn: permission granted. dir. walensky: thank you. >> -- thanks you. $2 million was spent to keep schools open, students have suffered severe learning loss and emotional and social problems. i hope dr. walensky will address this thing -- scandal we have outlined and provide answers for us today on those allegations made, especially as it relates to the unprecedented action that the union bosses were able to get to make major edits to a cdc document, weeks before it was released to the public. the list goes on, the cdc recommended little kids wear masks all date, indoors and outdoors, for two years. they did this without any
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reliable scientific evidence of masking effectiveness, and action that likely caused developmental delays for thousands of children. we have had testified identified and talked about the concerns to children's -- to children from these last few years. in 2021, the cdc recommended that kids at summer camp where masks even while outdoors, -- wear masks even while outdoors, though we knew transmission was unlikely. recently, after a long two years of masking guns, the cdc has changed its metrics for masking, effectively allowing most of the country to take masks off. this change happened to coincide with a memo from president biden's poster that shows people are fed up with covid restrictions like masks. not following the science, but
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the political science, after the poster to the president -- pollster to the present that the public is tired of this approach. why weren't these metrics used all along? i hope the witnesses will explain that today. it has also been reported by the new york times that the cdc has failed to publish essential information about covid-19 hospitalizations. at least in part to control the narrative around vaccine effectiveness. reports indicate the cdc has collected data on vaccine and booster shot effectiveness, as well as breakthrough infections and wastewater analysis, but has delayed its release, and released one small portions of the data, and in some cases none at all. states and localities could have used direct health data to better inform their efforts to mitigate the viruses spread in
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their area -- the virus'spread in it their area. they said that agency was literally stayed up because at the end of the day it is not ready for prime time. they feared the information might be misrepresented. let the science be put out there transparently and let everybody explain it. if it is hard to explain, maybe other decisions should have been made. people should have been given access to that data. this is what the majority of americans do not trust the cdc and what they said about covid. what happened to the transparency we were promised by president biden? on top of that, it was recently revealed that the cdc was publishing inaccurate data. an adjustment was made to the data trackers mortality data. on march 15, it involved the removal of 72,277 deaths,
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including 416 pediatric deaths, reducing the number of pediatric deaths by nearly 24%. this is not some minor error. a cdc spokesman told the washington examiner that the cdc's algorithm accidentally counted deaths that were not covid related. the flawed data indicated children were dying at an increased rate during the omicron surge, yet in fact they were not. what decisions were made off of this inaccurate data? i would also like to hear who has been held accountable for this mistake, if it was a mistake. i hope we get that address today . a very costly mistake. then there's the controversy over the biden administration?
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in action with procuring tests and a plan to provide -- administration's inaction with procuring tests. we have had to endure the administration's alienation of the unvaccinated, undermining trust in the vaccine and dividing americans. president biden's unlawful mandate was stopped by the supreme court. this over power grab further increase vaccine hesitancy. the biden administration has been sidelining the signs on boosters. first, and that summer of 2021, they announced the ability -- availability of booster shots for all adults by september. they made this announcement before the fda and cdc finished reviewing the data to determine
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the need for booster shots. because of this, to senior fda officials left the agency, under alarming reports of political and for -- interference. this was confusing for the public, fueling their continued distrust in public health guidance. republicans -- next line or so >> for whatever reason, democrats and washington refused to have a hearing on the origin. u.s. apparently was funding risky gain of function research in china. taxpayers should know about that and we should have a debate and discussion about whether we should even be funding this kind of controversial research in the united states or another country. unredacted emails show doctors thought she and collins warned that covid 19 came from that
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lab, yet they want to stifle any hypothesis the buyers could have been started in the lab. how much time and lives were lost telling people that something is a conspiracy, when it turned out to be true. hope the witnesses will address all these issues today. i know the american public is looking for answers and once the transparency they were promised and still have not gotten from the administration. with that, i yield back for the testimony. chair clyburn: thank you. before introducing the witnesses, let me address the ranking members expression, that dr. fauci is not with us today. it is clear that there have been several political attacks made
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against dr. fauci. i am more interested in that, and to continue the progress remade. we gave notice of this hearing. it is my understanding that the minority was made aware of our -- to our intended witnesses were going to be married i did see the public letter that was sent to dr. fauci. it did not allow us the two weeks that we usually grant administration people to prepare for the hearing. that is the reason we did not move forward.
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>> if i make, we did ask dr. fauci weeks ago. as normal practice, the majority has the majority of witnesses, but we have the opportunity to invite a witness. we don't have to check with the majority. we asked dr. fauci to bear witness. he said in his response, i will make sure you get a copy, that he is willing to testify. he did not have a problem coming to testify, he said he needs [indiscernible] we would appreciate that opportunity. i will get you a copy of this letter as well. >> mr. chairman? >> did you tell dr. fauci you did not want him to come today?
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chair clyburn: no, what are you talking about? >> unless you invite him, his response -- and the administration gets to know kate, he is not allowed to come, even though he said in that letter to the ranking member, he is willing to come any time to testify in front of congress. chair clyburn: you said that in a letter for me? >> note, from dr. fauci. chair clyburn: i have not seen the letter. the ranking member says he will give a copy to me. when he does, i will respond. >> i am always willing to testify before the congress -- there are two things that can keep them from coming,. chair clyburn: i did not ask him to come. i asked these three people.
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i didn't think we needed him. we've heard from him three times already, i did not ask him to come. >> i am asking you. we asked him to come, did you tell him not to come? did someone in the administration tell him not to come? chair clyburn: no, you asked him to come and he responded to you. if you wanted me to ask him, all you had to do was ask me. >> he could have just came. he could have just came. i yield back. chair clyburn: he could have. let me get on with the introduction of our distinguished witnesses today. first, i would welcome back dr. rochelle walensky, the director of the seed -- the for disease control.
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thank you for being with us again dr. wilensky. next, i welcome dawn o'connell, the assistant secretary for preparedness and response. finally, i want to welcome dr. by the mercy -- vivek murthy, the surgeon general of the united states. it is his mission includes to provide clear, consistent health guidance and resources to the american people.
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for the particular purpose to come -- welcome. will the witnesses please raise your right hands? do you swear that the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you god? yes. chair clyburn: let the record show that the witnesses answered in the affirmative. without objection, your written statements will be made part of the record. dr. wilensky, you are recognized for five minutes, for your opening statement. dir. walensky: thank you, good afternoon. i would like to extend my
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condolences to the loss of your colleague -- two for the loss of your colleague. i know he works tirelessly to represent the constituents of alaska for nearly 50 years. as a public health official, i increase -- i appreciate his efforts to trace awareness of tuberculosis. , with support from congress, and collaboration with the present, we have made incredible strides in providing the american public with the knowledge and tools necessary to combat the virus. over 217 million people have received a covid-19 primary series, providing critical protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death. we dramatically improve the volume and speed by which data are collected and released. we have received over 11,000 health care facility reporting is automatically. finally, we identified emerging
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variance, so we can quickly and effectively monitor changes and make lifesaving dissensions. rising hospitalizations and deaths due to omicron, reminded us that new variance can rapidly change our situation. while omicron infection may be less severe and widespread vaccinations and immunity from prior infections provided protection from this variant, we sought more hospitalizations in the alpha and delta variant. we amplified by person messaging on the importance of vaccination and boosters. the cdc is committed to providing those at increased risk for severe disease with the tools they need to protect themselves. just yesterday, following fda
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regulatory actions, cdc updated its recommendations to allow certain populations the option of an additional booster to increase their protection against severe disease. as we think about how we manage the next phase of the virus, we must continue to assist with metrics -- which metrics are most helpful to track future disease. the cdc received high marks for measuring and monitoring the covid-19 through communities, called the covid-19 community -- this focuses on prevention efforts, protecting people at high risk for severe disease. in preventing hospital and health care systems from becoming overwhelmed. the cdc also recently unveiled national data. we are tracking more than 750 testing centers across 639 communities. we will increase this to more than 800 sites.
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with information empowers local and state health officials, with surveillance, test positivity and hospitalizations. in addition, we strive to improve data sharing capabilities, with states, localities, providers, other health care partners in the public. we did this by investing in platforms like cv see -- cdc covid trackers where we share data each day pulled for more than 50 data sources. we do this with the data modernization initiative, to increase the capabilities of our public health partners. we also need to work with congress through bipartisan efforts to modernize our authority, to support and standardize data collection and rapid care of the data that they
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expect during and after the pandemic. the cdc was able to leverage temporary authority during the pandemic to make important strides in the state. we run the risk of losing these improvements and the ability to expand on them for other public health related data. the president's budget provides a roadmap to guide us to be more prepared for the next public health emergency. [indiscernible] it builds on the progress remade during the pandemic by creating a sustainable infrastructure. and more than $28 billion in the cdc the next five years, it will help with pandemic preparedness. taken together, this will boost our public health infrastructure and begin to address the long standing public health
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challenges that left us vulnerable. thank you, i look forward to your questions. chair clyburn: thank you. we will now hear from the assistant secretary o'connell. you are recognized for five minutes. dir. walensky: chair clyburn surgeon gen. murthy:, surgeon asst. sec. o'connell: first let me join dr. wilensky in offering my condolence for dr. young. i worked in the house for 13 years and remember him fondly. i know he will be sorely missed. capturing to the pandemic, over the last 15 months, as a country, we have made tremendous progress. today we have the tools we need, vaccines, tests, vaccines and masks, to keep people safe.
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thanks to the collaboration across hhs, with partners at dod and private industry, we have delivered more than 700 million doses of safe, effective, and free vaccines to sites around the country, contributing to 217 million people being fully vaccinated. we continue to allocate vaccine and boosters to sites nationwide. while vaccines remained the best way to prevent severe illness from covid-19, today we have an array of therapeutics to treat those that you become infected. we currently allocate monoclonal antibody treatments to states and territories for free on a weekly basis. we allocate monoclonal antibody treatments, it is for autoimmune -- immunocompromised people who cannot receive a vaccine. we recently announced a test to -- just to treat policy.
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under this program, people are able to get tested and if they are positive, and treatments are appropriate, receive a prescription from a health care provider and have the prescription filled all in one location. this is important because antivirals were passed within five days of symptom onset. testing continues to be a vital part of -- disease surveillance, connecting patients to treatment and keeping businesses and schools we have made significant progress in increasing testing supply availability and affordability over the past year. we went from zero over-the-counter tests in january 2021, to approximately 300 million in december. i recently visited a rapid test facility in illinois, to meet with workers on the production floor. the advances we have made in testing are reflective of a
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broader effort to bolster our domestic manufacturing of critical medical supplies, expand our industrial base and secure the public health supply chain. in addition to increasing the commercial availability of tests through investments in domestic manufacturing, we have secured more than 900 million tests promise it for free to the american people. we are in the process of procuring the remaining ones. in partnership with the u.s. postal service, we have delivered hundreds of millions of free at home tests to more than 70 million american households by the covid program. while we are pleased to see the omicron search receding nationwide, we know masks continue to be useful in some situations. january's of the present directed us to make high-quality, american-made, n95 masks available to the american people for free. today, the national stockpile of shipped more than 250 million
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masks to pharmacies and community health centers nationwide. this effort represents the largest employment of ppe in u.s. history. since the start of the pandemic, we have tripled the number of n95's. in addition, throughout the pandemic, especially this past year, we have provided on the ground support to states and communities in need. since july, 93 national disaster excites, nearly 1100 team members have deployed 226 separate states and the commonwealth of the northern mariana islands, american samoa and palau, to set up medical overflow centers for patients and mortuary support. as we move forward and prepare for new surges, we will continue to make resources available to help states and communities respond. while covid has been anything but predictable, we are in a much better position to respond
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than we were a year ago. a big reason is because congress , on a bipartisan basis, provided the resources needed to make sure americans had free and widely available tools to protect themselves. i want to thank you for your support and partnership and look forward to working with you as we continue to respond to the covid-19 pandemic. i'm happy to answer any of your questions. chair clyburn: [indiscernible] >> [indiscernible] >> chair clyburn: we will now hear from dr. murthy for five minutes. surgeon gen. murthy: thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for allowing me the privilege of speaking with you today. in the last year, we have collectively harnessed our countries scientific and
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production capacity to make significant progress in the fight against covid-19. we identified and developed the tools to keep people safe and out of hospitals including vaccines, boosters, and antiviral treatments. we funded the production of these on a massive scale and made them, along with high quality masks, available for free to millions in america. we have not relegated covid-19 to the history books. the bottom line is that today, we are in a better position to address covid than any other point in the pandemic. america has never been closer to the date when covid-19 no longer defines our lives. the question now is whether or not we can keep this part one progress and build on it. -- hard won progress and build on it. that is why what i want to highlight today is one of the biggest ongoing threats to our public health, the extensive and dangerous threat of misinformation. the usefulness of a tool is
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dependent on whether an individual can make a fully informed decision about if -- if when and how to use it. mike comes her health, this -- if we fail to address health misinformation out, our ability to contain this pandemic will suffer. our response in the next global health emergency will be exponentially harder. the societal polarization that misinformation thrives on will be further exhaust baited -- exacerbated and we will whisk the well-being of more -- risk the well-being of more families. last year, i released my surgeon general's advisory on misinformation which highlights the emergency of this crisis and what it will take to address it. it will take all of us. advisory includes recommendations for every major sector. government can support community organizations another trusted
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mission -- messengers working to provide -- and use the full extent of its powers to create a healthy information environment. clinicians, including doctors and nurses can continue to expand their work to address misinformation directly with patients and community. our educators can play an important role in providing people tools for digital health literacy, journalists and media outlets can inform the public without amplifying misinformation by providing context, using a broader range of credible sources, and avoiding sensationalism. technology companies need to step up and deal with the misinformation on their site. they can start by sharing data transparently with independent researchers and the public so we can all -- understand help misinformation spreading online and how best to address it. we all have a platform, however
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big or small. i believe we have a moral responsibility to be honest, fair and accountable for what we share. i look forward to discussing these possibilities with you today. i want to acknowledge those who are concerned about where the line is drawn between preventing the spread of misinformation and censorship. we are a country that prides itself on defending certain bedrock values, including freedom of speech. values we support and honor and cherish are the beacons that have drawn generations of immigrants, like my parents, to this country. in our society, where individual actions affect one another, we must set common rules for the common good. that respect and reflect our common values. that's why we banned tobacco ads that target kids and mandated warning labels on tobacco products. the public's ability to make a fully informed decision about their health is protected.
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present redden -- president reagan, congress and dr. c everest troop, -- it was there actions there the nearly unparalleled health success story. we have the opportunity to do that again. as we protect the gains you've made against covid and prepare for what is ahead, let's insure all americans have the tools that support any information necessary to help keep themselves and their loved ones safe. thank you. i look forward to your questions today. >> mr. chairman, may i be recognized? chair clyburn: yes, you may. >> i wish to be recognized for unanimous consent to enter into the record, the subcu mate from last flight, the report that my colleagues across the aisle have introduced is misleading cherry picked statements taken out of context and falsely suggests
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that the cdc was pressured by teachers unions to keep schools closed. here is the truth. republicans reported a sad attempt to equate biden administration's stewardship with trump administration corruption. it is not in anyway unusual or improper for the cdc to engage with stakeholders about how guidelines will be implemented in practice. while republicans accused the biden administration of trying to keep schools closed, the reality is the opposite. today, under the biden administration's leadership, virtually every school is open. just yesterday, i heard 99.9% of schools are open. and operating in person, safely. even pres. trump's former cdc director told us in a recent interview that he is "very happy with the current trends in the biden administration and keeping schools open safely."
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hearing from teachers on how to best achieve this is not improper. what is is having political appointees routinely apply pressure to career scientists to impact public health guidance for political reasons. i have in my hand a select subcommittee staff analysis the documents 88 separate incidences of the trump administration's political -- including repeatedly over rolling and bullying our nations scientists and make seeking decisions that allowed the virus to spread more rapidly. let's talk about why the examples. multiple incidences, told us that cdcs guidelines were altered in august 2020, specifically to reduce the amount of testing being conducted. at the time when no vaccines and few treatments were available. think about that. why did the trump administration do this? not because it was sound
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scientifically, but the high number of cases was making them look bad politically. mr. chair, i think it is important for the official hearing record to reflect what actual improper political interference looks like. i asked for unanimous consent that the staff analysis be entered. chair clyburn: without objection. >> thank you. chair clyburn: members will now have five minutes within which to ask questions. dr. wilensky, in your opening statement, i'm putting, overall, this is now generally -- the severity is now generally low.
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which acknowledges that the fires continues to circulate in our communities. can you elaborate? and what americans should do to make sure the risk to themselves and their families continue to remain low? chair clyburn: dir. walensky: thank you, chairman, i'm happy to do that. i would like to talk about where we are. the most recent variant. we know about this omicron variant, in contrast to what we found with delta and outlet, it is more transmissible. but we also know it tends to cause less severe disease. correcting for comorbidities, and vaccine status, we have seen the omicron specifically causes less severe disease, less hospitalization, lest i see you
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-- less icu. because of vaccines and boosters and protection from prior disease, 95% of people in this country have some level of protection against sars-cov-2. we don't know how durable, or long-lasting, but we know most people in this country have some level of protection. the best way to remain protected is to get your primary series and your booster shot. that third booster shot is still essential. what we seen with the omicron variant, is higher levels of immunity to combat omicron. that means it may not work -- the vaccine is not working so well against infection, but is still working against severe disease, hospitalization and death. what we have seen our most recent data about omicron is
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that if you're boosted, you're 21 times less likely to die of omicron as if you are unvaccinated. it is true omicron is less severe, but much more infectious. it is true that the population level, has a lot of immunity. you need that booster shot, because you need high levels of protection to combat omicron. thank you. chair clyburn: i have a second question. can you give us more about the current status of the ba.2 subvariant in the united states and how we are preparing to combat it? dir. walensky: absolutely. ba.2 is a cousin of omicron, it is a subvariant. the one we have seen here mostly is ba1. what we know about ba.2, since
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january, is that it is slightly more transmissible than ba1. we have seen over time, it is increasingly prevalent in the united states. just yesterday, cdc demonstrated about 55% of our infections now are related to ba.2. we are seeing data from other countries, which is providing optimism the if you have had ba1 , you are less likely to get ba.2. there is quite a bit of protection if you've previously been infected with ba1 against ba.2. we also note that ba.2 does not cost more severe disease than omicron cousin. nor does it look like it evades immunity anymore than ba1. we are watching this carefully and continue to have relatively low levels of disease, about
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2700 cases a day. a higher proportion of it is ba.2. chair clyburn: thank you. as members know, we are having -- i don't seem republicans on the screen. are there any in the room. the turnout recognizes ms. maroney for five minutes. >> thank you mr. chairman, inc. hr panelists. the biden administration's vaccine campaign has been essential to combating the covid vaccine -- covid virus. this has provided significant protection against severe illness and save lives. dr. murthy, how impactful has the biden administration's
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vaccination campaign been in helping our nation overcome the crisis and move forward safely? surgeon gen. murthy: thank you congresswoman, for that conch -- for that question. that has been one of the successes of the covid response that we should all feel good about. we have been able to develop, reduce and distribute vaccines at a scale that is truly historic for our country. the impact of that has been literally life-saving. we have 217 million plus people who have been vaccinated in the united states. plus over one million lives -- prevented over 10 million hospitalizations. i will tell you, as someone who has lost family members to covid-19, we have had friends hospitalized with this virus, i would have given anything to have had a vaccine available my family members got sick. but that wasn't the case. the fact that we have one now is
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one of the great scientific successes of our time. also a great victory for the community. what made this possible was not just government, it was partnerships with community organizations across america. it was moms and dads talking to their friends, state leaders talking to their communities, to get vaccine information to people. we still have more work to do. we have millions who are not vaccinated, who do not have the protection against covid-19 that we want for everyone. we are not giving up. we are doing everything we can to make sure we have accurate information about the vaccine so they can get the protection that every american deserves. >> thanks said this, 99% of americans live in places where masks are not currently recommended under the cdc's guidelines, dr. walensky, you
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have described that the updated framework reflects the reality that the risk of severe disease is now generally lower in most communities, thanks to vaccinations and booster shots, as well as new treatments and access rapid testing and improved ventilation, how does the updated framework reflect where the countries is today in terms of the overall risks posed by the virus, to individuals and our health system? dir. walensky: on february 25, we released our new covid community levels. there is so much right now, especially in omicron, -- there's a lot of protection out there. we wanted to updated framework to reflect severe disease, how
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are hospitals are doing. we also wanted these metrics to reflect the ability for -- they have the capacity to access and, to wear a mask in any of the settings. these covid-19 levels, they requested an updated the metrics , what we looked to help the metrics performed, they performed well during the omicron search. informing what we will need to forward through now, six weeks from now. >> explained that cdc's framework is designed to be flexible, signaling and policymakers should consider it relaxing the program, and other times you said you would dial it up, can you elaborate on how cdc
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framework helps guide communities about when to dial up mitigation measures, up or down. dir. walensky: one of the things that has been clear to this pandemic, we've gotten curveballs. we need to be ready to dial things back should we get another one of those curveballs. we have said we want to relax our mitigation strategies when things are going well, we want to have the capacity to turn them back on again if we see challenges with our hospital capacity. that is what these community metrics do. they are intended to be followed at the county level, there metrics reported on at least a weekly basis, locally and in real time and updated metrics concerning trends. >> my time has expired.
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mr. chairman, i think we been called to another boat. chair clyburn: thank you very much, the turnout recognizes -- for five minutes. >> thank you for having this hearing today. i want to talk a little bit about the inconsistency we are hearing from the federal level, state levels of the level. i think it has been a double standard that has been put in place that have been stressful for my constituents. and infuriating. for example, just recently, our mayor announced if you're a baseball or basketball star or performer, that you don't need a vaccine to continue doing your job, yet 1500 city workers, firefighters, police officers, teachers, were fired for failing to comply with the vaccine mandate. i would love to hear dr. walensky's opinion on what science was the mayor using and
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saying if you are a brooklyn net , you don't need the vaccination, but if you are a firefighter, you do? is there a science that was being followed there? dir. walensky: let me just say, the cdc provides guidance at the national level. our recommendations are intended to be able to be useful in places such as the cherokee nation as well as new york city, rural montana. we certainly have recommended strongly for vaccines and booster shots, demonstrating that if you are vaccinated and boosted, you have a 21% -- 21 times less likelihood of death prepare -- compared to if you are unvaccinated. we've always said -- we are deferential to our political leaders locally to apply the guidance. this is critically important. this disease is local. what is happening in your
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county, in your jurisdiction. as we have provided high-level guidance and recommendations, it is intended to be a guide. we are deferential to the local leaders for how to solve the issue. >> question there be consistency? why is a brooklyn net player, or even if you are a fan, you needed to be vaccinated, but if you are playing at, -- playing on the court, you don't need to be vaccinated. i think it is important that the municipalities have consistency here? is it wrong that people are losing their livelihood? particularly in light of this new decision by our mayor? dir. walensky: i cannot speak to the mayor's decision. what i can say is the cdc recommendations is to get vaccinated and boosted.
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they are saving lives. our guidance protects people. >> and was the cdc guidance regarding vaccine mandates for public school students across the country? dir. walensky: the cdc does not apply any mandates. the cdc -- what we do is synthesize all those policies on our website sorepresentative: ls the administration telling you about -- i guess there is a push to pass a new covid relief package. and my concern is, there have been billions of dollars of fraud in the paycheck protection program and unemployment insurance fund. i understand, as part of the
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chairman's memo regarding this meeting, the part of the topic was going to be programs for economic development. i understand you are cdc and not necessarily administering these programs. at you had conversations with colleagues in the administration on how to ensure this money that was taken from taxpayers is returned to the treasury, because i am hesitant to support any additional funding if we are not going to have accountability to the upper to hundreds of billions of dollars estimated that has been taken fraud gallantly through ppp and uninsurance employment programs. dr. walensky: we are at the critical juncture right now. we are low on funds. the federal government ordered us not only to purchase vaccines, boosters tests and therapeutics, but to deliver and administer them to the american people. we are concerned about our
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ability to look at vaccine effectiveness studies, studies that are germane, looking at studies of long covid post-covid conditions over the long-term, what the post-covid conditions mean. representative: we should find out what happened to that money because asking taxpayers for more when hundreds of billions of dollars was lost is unconscionable. let's find that money that should have been used for its intended purpose to begin with. thank you. chair clyburn: the chair now recognizes mr. chris murphy for five minutes. representative: let me begin with secretary o'connell. how many doses of vaccine are left in the stockpile that is to
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be administered, at this point? dep. sec. o'connell: thank you. that is important. as we look across our inventory, it changes every day as vaccines are administered. we currently assess that we have enough doses, we have enough to be able to provide a boost for the 50 and older population that was just authorized and recommended by fda and cdc yesterday. we have significant concerns about whether we would have enough vaccine if we were due a general population boost campaign in the fall. particularly if we are going to need a variance pacific vaccine. we don't have those doses and don't have funding for those doses. representative: what we have left is enough -- >> what we have left is enough for boosting those age 50 and older. how many in the population are
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younger that part -- younger than that particular age, do you know? dep. sec. o'connell: of the 330 million we look at in total, how many are 50 or overcome i don't have that on the top of my head. representative: the health resources and services administration's uninsured program is supposed to run out of money very shortly. has it already run out of money? dep. sec. o'connell: thank you. it has, for one component did is responsible for. as of tuesday at midnight, -- last tuesday at midnight, it stopped processing claims for testing and treatments. it no longer accepts clients for that as of last tuesday. next tuesday, it will stop accepting claims for vaccines. representative: as of last tuesday, it stopped except --
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stop accepting reimbursements for tests and treatments on the tuesday, it will do the same for vaccines? dep. sec. o'connell: that is right, and these are claims providers are submitting to them. representative: i am deeply concerned about that. my phone is already lighting up with text messages and emails from a number of providers who were expecting to be reimbursed. i suspect that is the case all over the country. at roughly how many people are we talking about who are going to be potentially left in the lurch who would otherwise benefit from this? dep. sec. o'connell: person -- hersa would know that in particular, but several tens of millions of people fall into that cap at this point -- gap at this point. representative: i am cochair of the global vaccination caucus here in congress, and we have
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been strenuously advocating for more funding to make sure the rest of the world is vaccinated, because that is the only way we are going to get out of this pandemic. how much of the, i believe $15.6 billion that has been requested is now being allocated for that particular purpose, mobile vaccinations? asst. sec. o'connell: my understanding is $5 billion for the state department at usaid to do that work. representative: what would be done with that money? asst. sec. o'connell: the president committed 1.2 billion vaccines to the rest of the world. 5.2 billion have been delivered to 112 countries, but we have more work to do -- 5.2 million and been delivered to 112 countries, but we have more work to do. we have to make sure they are administered it is one thing to ship them, it is another to make sure they actually enter arms that that is part of the work usaid is planning next. representative: so, 5 billion
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would be sufficient to fulfill the rest of the pledge that was made? asst. sec. o'connell: usaid and state made that request and how much of the pledge it would fulfill, we will have to see. but that is what they were initially requesting. representative: can you come back to me with that? that is extremely part to me. we need more transparency on that because that is something i and a lot of others care deeply about. >> we have seen challenges administering vaccines in this country. [indiscernible] populations in those settings have received one dose. we need administration capacity, surveillance capacity, data capacity in all these places in order to deliver the vaccines and get them to people. representative: i think we need
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a lot more than $5 billion for that, honestly. and that is where we need more transparency and information from you. thank you. chair clyburn: thank you. the chair recognizes mr. scalise. representative: dr. walensky, we interviewed dr. henry wong, the cdc director for center of preparedness and response at your office, you know mr. wong, don't you? dr. walensky: yes, i do. he has a great amount of integrity. representative: we asked him a number of questions about something we also asked you about that relates to changes made to cdc guidance before they were about to come out on store
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reopening -- reopenings as it relates to the teachers union making edits to the cdc guidance. when we ask you about it, you said, quote, it is cdc's customary practice to engage with stakeholders, which we thought wasn't necessarily what we have seen. so we asked dr. wong and he said that it was uncommon for the cdc to share draft guidance documents to outside partners. he also said cdc, even if they did release draft guidance, it would be embargoed several hours before publication. yet you shared school guidance with the cdc 12 days before publication. there is a trail of emails going back before the guidance came out between you and the had of the union -- head of the union
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talking about changes they wanted that were ultimately incorporated almost verbatim. it is uncommon or not uncommon to allowing outside partner like a teachers union who is trying to keep schools shut to edit the documents when the cdc guidance was initially going to give more credence to opening schools that you changed it on their behalf to, in essence, give them a better opportunity to keep schools closed. is it uncommon or is it common the right statement? dr. walensky: thank you. first of all, i was not in the room to understand the context of his statement. let me tell you what i know about the conversation. these were discussions in the beginning of february 20 took to bond -- february 2021, days after i entered this position.
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getting our schools open was critical. we had 36% of schools open at the time for in-person learning. and i think we would all agree we have challenges with children being home, the social and educational processes that were being lost. we needed to get our schools open. we engaged as we often do engage with organizations and groups that are impacted by our guidance at the agency. representative: did you engage with any parents? ? ' groups -- any parents' groups? dr. walensky: we did. over 50 organizations and stakeholders. the association of school nurses , all with the mission of getting our children back to school. representative: can you provide details out all the groups you consulted with that can you provide which groups gave you recommendations that you
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incorporated? because when we look at the request from the teachers union, they sent you language because they were concerned your language might not make it easy enough for them to close schools. dr. fauci testified almost a year ago, schools should be open. there is strong science schools should be open. the unions wanted to close them. this is the changed language after they sent you this email, not where parent groups were able to give input that i have seen. they sent you this change. this is what your new document showed, literally almost verbatim language. i don't know if you put a footnote that they gave you the language, but who else was able to get this kind of guidance to you that you then took almost verbatim it changed your report? dr. walensky: we engaged with
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over 50 organizations and stakeholders. we take that feedback and we consider it and ultimately implement things that are consistent with our scientific underpinnings and our guidance. representative: clearly the unions were one of those groups that got to change the science. dr. walensky: it was not science that was changed and it was an omission end if i could speak to the omission, the omission was in the draft guidance. we did not reflect on what would happen with immuno compromised teachers, teachers undergoing chemotherapy, whether they were on modulating agents. there was nothing in the guidance on what we should do in that situation. representative: they thank you for including it because they said it makes it easier to close schools.
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did any other group if you changes that you incorporated? dr. walensky: as to your question of what happened after the guidance, 46% of schools were closed -- 46% of schools were open before the guidance. 60% just two months after. the guidance opened schools at we publicly sat even in the absence of vaccinations, schools should be open in the absence of vaccinations. in fact, just this past year in fall 2021 with the delta surge ongoing, we had over 99% of our schools open. representative: i look forward to getting that information from you. if we can get dr. fauci to testify before the committee, he said he can't do it unless you ask so i ask you to ask after vouching to testify -- dr. fauci to testify. chair clyburn: i will take under consideration your request.
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is there a democratic member that we have not recognized? any member present that is not recognized? i am going to call a recess. i know we have a hard stop at 4:00, but let me recess to see if any of the members wish to participate. the chair recognizes miss miller makes for five minutes. representative: thank you. i want to thank all our witnesses. and i know how difficult this is. dr. walensky, you and i have conversations and i mentioned my frustration about the pandemic related to the cdc and nih, more
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frustration over bureaucracies and how they work more than the individuals involved. i wanted to say that upfront. having been a director of the department of public health, so have -- i also had concerns when it became director that the majority of our function was not related to what i think is the most important action of the cdc, disease control, our primary mission which is a national security issue, versus the shift toward prevention. i think we know why that has occurred, but it brings a level of frustration because we don't have the immediacy we need when it comes to handling a pandemic. dr. murthy, dr. walensky, dr. o'connell, i have published in medical journals and you all know that there is a firsthand
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requirement for disclosure of financial interests and any conflicts of interest. dr. walensky, i want to ask if the cdc, when they published february 2021 guidance, did you think to put a footnote to the teachers union or disclose that there was a conflict in getting information verbatim from the teachers union? dr. walensky: thank you. our guidance and recommendations are a bit different than policies in a medical journal. we do advise standard practice and get feedback from different organizations and many stakeholders, and in full guidance and other guidance as well. we don't necessarily list who we feed -- who we get feedback from. you know as a public health official that we routinely engage with our public health partners, school
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superintendents, state boards of education, parent organizations, tenant organizations, the national organization of school psychologists. representative: i didn't see any footnote or guidance that was directed from the state of iowa which reopened schools in the fall without incident or super-spreader events. we opened schools in august 202010 no detriment either to teachers, staff or students. when you look at the effect on students, i will continue to emphasize this because our sponsor to the pandemic is based upon the precedent this year, we just reduced the number of pediatric deaths. i am concerned about excess deaths due to the pandemic. excess deaths have surpassed one
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million deaths according to cdc. deaths attributed to covid may have been from other comorbidities which would have caused death regardless of whether someone was infected with covid-19. we have seen increases of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and advanced cancers because there was not a diagnosis or treatment. even more remarkable, the deaths from increased mental health issues, whether they be depression, anxiety, suicide, drug use and overdose. those deaths are occurring in the 18-45 year age group. the nevada school system opened its schools in 2021 because of
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18 deaths in nine months, the youngest of which was nine years old. that is a travesty we foisted upon our children who are the future of this cap -- this country. how are they going to be resilient in the future when there early learning years were not in school and without social interactions. it is important that we look at the consequences, risks and benefits and there are significant risks to how we performed in this pandemic. as we have heard, we know you worked with the teachers union to establish school reopening guidance. but i am interested if you took excess deaths into consideration. how did the data showing rising drug and suicide deaths impact
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your guidance? did you consult with the american academy of pediatrics or the american psychological association who declared a national emergency on children's health and the who, which declared a world emergency on childhood offered. chair clyburn: the chair will allow short answer. dr. walensky: you and i had a recent conversation about this. i am happy to provide a list to articulate our school guidance. i commended the state of vaio a being able to open safely -- state of iowa to be able to open safely, but only 46% of schools were opened overall. there was uneven distribution of where cases are around the country.
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an important point on data, we owing this pandemic at cdc have needed to work with real-time data in this emergency and report it outwards. in our death data, we make decisions that i know you know involve public health, especially with death data. we get them in real time and that he get more sophisticated and validated death data from other sources later, so we are constantly updating our data and validating especially the death data. on the death data, as you know, it is very difficult but we are working toward that as well. representative: thank you, mr. chair. it is hard to send more money without reforming cdc. chair clyburn: i apologized for the problems -- apologized for the problems we are having. another vote is taking place.
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we have been having 15-minute votes and because we have so many people voting by proxy because of covid-19, we reduced the time to five minutes, which means they lot of people are sticking close to the floor. and there is a vote on the floor now that is taking more time because it seems there is confusion about what they are voting for. so, people are searching for votes and in the absence of the ranking member, i will proceed to close. but before we close, i ask unanimous consent to enter into the record letters from national
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association of county and city health officials. i am sure there will be no objections, there is nobody here to object. in close, i ask all the witnesses who testified -- i thank all the witness who testified today. we truly appreciate your steady leadership the pandemic and your dedication to protect and improve the health of all americans. as we have heard, safe and effective vaccines, new treatments, reppo testing and other tools -- rapid testing and other tools have allowed americans to drastically reduce their risk of the coronavirus. we have emerged from the crisis phase of the pandemic as a result of this progress. congress must provide the
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necessary funding to execute resident biden's national covid-19 containment land. this plan, if fully funded, will equip our mission to protect against and treat the coronavirus, prepare for new variants, keep businesses open safely, open schools and continue leading the global vaccination effort. if congress fails to act, we increase the risk the coronavirus will become a crisis once again. i see that the ranking member has returned and will allow him to make a closing statement. representative: thank you. we are bouncing back and forth voting and having a hearing and i shea you -- i appreciate you having it and appreciate the witnesses.
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there is contention over some of the differences here and it is because we have been working and had hearings where dr. fauci and others said we need to open schools. we had this fight for too long. you see documents that come out that appear that some people were given extra ability to change guidance from the cdc. unions were asking for changes because they felt that what was about to come out wasn't going to give them enough ability to shut schools. and when we have science saying open the schools and almost verbatim, the changes they proposed and asked to be included were incorporated almost word for word in the final document. they had 12 days in advance, the ability to do this. dr. walensky said she is going to give us information on other groups.
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we have been here for parents group send a lot of the time, the justice department was calling parents domestic temper wrists for trying to get schools opened and it seems the biden administration has been siding with unions against parents over and over. maybe some parents' groups were included. i would love to see those that were able to get language included. we know what the unions were able to get included. and this is with the backdrop of a hearing a few months ago with the president's own pollster laid out polling showing the american people are worn out by the pandemic route at the next they come a cdc change to guidance to say you don't have to have masks, after the president's pollster said people are fed up. if we get back to restoring trust, we have to address what happened here.
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dr. green wasn't able to ask questions during votes, but i would like to give up the rest of my time. representative: thank you. as a physician, we live by a code, the ama's clear about standards for publications. ama is clear you disclose financial grants or anything you get. the teachers unions gave millions of dollars to democrats across the board and influenced five paragraphs of the cd see -- of the cdc position. ed wasn't disclosed that this teachers union did not get disclosed. -- it wasn't disclosed that this teachers union did not get disclosed. it is against ama policy on publications. there is not a footnote at five
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paragraphs are practically identical. a high school kid turning in a term paper has to put a footnote in. with that, i yield. chair clyburn: without objection, all members have five working days in which to submit additional written questions for the witnesses to the chair, which will be fhe's introduced r
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john bozeman. [applause] thank you all. there was a big hint to get up here. [applause] this is a big deal and it's taken a lot of effort. thank you senator scott for being


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