Calls for closer coordination with World Health Organization, worldwide partners in responding to coronavirus pandemic


Washington (March 20, 2020) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today demanded answers from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf about the federal government’s ability to help Americans return to the United States safely amidst the outbreak of COVID-19. In his letter, Senator Markey expresses frustration that the Administration is not properly coordinating between federal agencies, leaving U.S. allies in the dark and Americans confused as to what policies and procedures have actually been put in place to keep those traveling to the United States, as well as the government employees who are screening them, safe.


“The Trump administration’s inability to lead and protect community health has left the American public and our allies confused,” writes Senator Markey in his letter. “The United States appears unprepared to implement appropriate, science-based travel restrictions and entry requirements, and unwilling to proactively communicate plans to our diplomatic partners. Although local officials have done crucial work screening travelers at airports and other ports of entry, the U.S. government has not provided clear guidance to these officials or provided frontline employees with sufficient safety equipment.”


A copy of Senator Markey’s letter can be found HERE.


In the letter, Senator Markey asks for responses to questions that include:

  • Does the State Department have adequate resources and personnel for potential evacuations of U.S. citizens from overseas?
  • What is the State Department’s role in, and policy for, facilitating the collection and sharing of the high-quality, timely, and comprehensive public health surveillance data generated in the United States with the World Health Organization and other international partners?
  • Will the airlines, the Transportation Security Administration, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or state public health officials screen all arriving international passengers, regardless of origins, for illness?
  • How are you supporting those currently awaiting adjudication by U.S. officials as they “remain in Mexico” and run the risk of contracting COVID-19 and other diseases in camps along the U.S.-Mexico border?
  • Do DHS employees at all ports of entry – air, sea, and land – and have adequate protective equipment in light of the pandemic and their extensive public contact?