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TODAY: At noon Eastern I’m going to be doing a House Energy & Commerce hearing on Coronavirus.

Because it’s on the phone, I may try to become the first witness in the history of Congress to live tweet their own hearing.

Follow here if it sounds worthwhile.
I’ve done probably 20 Congressional hearings. Some contentious, some intended to be informative. This is unlikely to be contentious— although different views will certainly be heard. 2/
The prep is usually to submit written testimony & then write a 5 minute opening statement. No written testimony here. Also no suit.

But I’m going to stop stalling & jot down some thoughts for my opening. 3/
I just pulled my 5 minute remarks together. Just notes not fully written as I’ve said these things many times. I will hone them during the opening & post them when I talk. 4/
The other witnesses are @Avik & Mark McClellan. Both are Republicans. I’ve known Mark for quite a while. He ran CMS & FDA under Bush 2. We have done a bunch of work together & we worked on the bipartisan proposal on Contact Tracing below. Very smart. 5/…
Avik and I have had a couple public debates over the ACA & we worked together as part of a bipartisan policy center initiative that brought 10 diverse views together to look at ideas for the future.

I’m going to grab a cup of coffee, do a read through & dial in. 6/
The Chair is @FrankPallone & the ranking is @repgregwalden.

The 3 witnesses are now in a green room discussion. Chatting about when Congress returns & prospects for a bipartisan bill.

They will each make opening remarks. Then alternative D v R questions in order of seniority.7/
Just went live. 90 minutes. Press is on the line. We are being introduced.

Looks like I’m going first. 8/
Very collaborative remarks from the Chair and ranking. Everyone is looking for what should be in the next CARES.

Focus is on testing, contact tracing & isolation. Walden mentions mental health & communities of color which is great. 9/
I just gave my remarks. Here are my notes. 10/
Mark is speaking now. His comments are consistent with mine but also emphasizes critical scientific opportunities and assistance to health care providers—while we engage them in the public health crisis.

Very smart ideas he and I have discussed before & he has done work on.11/
Now @Avik is speaking now. speaking about how much is falling on underserved populations. He aims to bring people back to work DURING COVID-19.

Doesn’t believe in conventional wisdom that testing/tracing must happen before opening up businesses. Can’t afford to wait to open.12/
Says vaccine can take 5-18 years. Testing will take too long. We can’t wait he says because small businesses can’t take that long.

He thinks elderly & sick people can be isolated & rest (schools & businesses) can carefully re-open. 13/
He says 40% of deaths are in nursing homes. Says great tragedy, but great opportunity.
-isolate staff
-better cleaning BUT
-more optimism for the rest of the country 14/
Says most people have an overly-simplistic assessment of testing. Says testing is too cumbersome. Push back on anyone calling for people calling for millions tests/day. 15/
45 minutes for questions. From Walden.

How to test asymptomatic cases.
People not allowed to get allowed elective procedures done.

Avik answers that important to allow opening.
I respond safety needed & COViD/non-COVID hospitals/need testing
Mark agrees w me we need testing16/
Now @bobbyrushfor1st. Introduced bipartisan Trace Act bill to task CDC to create new movement for testing, contact tracing.

Wants to know if proposal is in the ball park. My answer: yes, and thanks. 17/
From Rep Shimkis. Rural counties with no deaths. Question of what to do. Coming of a public revolt in counties with no cases.

All of us agree rural counties can open carefully. My watch is for meat processing plants, nursing homes & being quick to respond. 18/
From @RepAnnaEshoo, what can Medicaid do?

Mark and I both answer. Medicaid providers need more ability to take care of underserved patients & take better care of them. 19/
.@mikeburgess99, a doc from TX, asks Mark about testing. Wonders about testing and second wave. Mark discusses some of the innovations coming in testing. Mark level & balanced about hope & realism. 20/
Next question @RepEliotEngel is asking about what surveillance can be leveraged.

Avik answers that a vaccine will be at least 5 years out. Maybe I mis-heard the question. 21/
Mark also thought the question was about surveillance.

But on vaccines, he is much more optimistic than Avik. Refutes that SARS/MERS wouldn’t have a vaccine. And supportive of the new vaccine technology. He’s a clinician & former FDA head. Gives detailed insight on progress.22/
Now @RepMcKinley is on. Asking about how to prevent sick inmates into West Virginia prisons. Since WV has done well, he worries they’re going to get inundated with sick prisoners.

Palone says that prisons need to be made safer and some of that could be what’s happening.23/
Now @RepDianaDeGette from Colorado. Looking to do oversight on PPE & other things. Wants to do a bipartisan oversight hearing on testing. Question of how contact tracing can be done. Tech or people.

I answer tech not a silver bullet, but can help. Mark provides more color.24/
Now @PeteOlson. Asking about telemedicine. Big proponent. Doctors that the flip to telemedicine changes are good. Gone from 80/20 in person-telemedicine to the reverse. Wants to extend telemedicine waivers.

Avik & I both agree. 23/
Now @RepSchakowsky talking about testing & reporting in nursing homes. Challenges Avik that schools can open without adequate testing.

Avik describes how to re-open schools. Rationale is school age children are at low risk. Plus educational & economic benefit & nutrition.25/
Wants to protect teachers y offering them paid leave & households with older or sicker people, kids would stay home.

Closing comments. We all agree to bypass. Avik goes back to answer the question he misunderstood. 27/
I will offer my perspective on this but am hoping in the radio with @ChrisCuomo now on @SXMProgress
Overall nice agreement among members who got to speak on the need for testing & contact tracing.

Republican members from rural districts with low to no cases had valid concerns about not opening more. Push for broader opening beyond that didn’t come from members. /end
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