Brooks active in nation's emergency preparedness
ANDERSON – Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, Rep. Susan Brooks was working to prepare for the crisis.
Brooks, R-5th District, has served on the health subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee in the U.S. House and sponsored the reauthorization of the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act (PAHPA) in 2019.
During a telephone interview with The Herald Bulletin on Thursday, Brooks said the act was originally adopted in 2006 to prepare for a natural or man-made emergency.
“Some of what we were working on to prepare has helped with the COVID-19 outbreak,” she said. “The bill created a strategic national stockpile of medical supplies.”
Brooks said the measure allowed the government to buy the medical supplies and store them at strategic locations around the country.
“The challenge with COVID-19 is that it’s new,” she said. “There were not tests in the stockpiles.”
Brooks said PAHPA providing funding for hospital preparedness grants and to get people trained.
She explained that in 2018 the House voted for reauthorization of the legislation, but the Senate didn’t vote on the measure.
“I was the lead author in the House,” she said of the legislation passed by the Congress and signed by President Donald Trump last June.
“We need to have a national health preparedness strategy,” Brooks continued. “The federal government has to work with the medical community to encourage the development of vaccines.”
Brooks said PAHPA will reach every community in the nation and is aimed at getting everyone focused on long-term and child care facilities.
She said the nation needs to establish medical countermeasures and make available needed personal protection equipment for first responders and medical staff.
“Since 2006 there have been 42 medical countermeasures approved,” Brooks said. “We can never do enough.”
She said the 2015 national blueprint for bio-defense developed by a bi-partisan commission recommended that the office of the vice president should be in charge of the response.
“We’re following the blueprint,” Brooks said. “Mistakes will be made, but I have faith in the people put in charge.”
Concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, she said China was not forthright with the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding when the virus actually surfaced.
“Medical experts believe it appeared far earlier than China reported,” Brooks said. “China was reluctant to let the WHO team enter the country.”
She said President Trump’s ban on people entering the country from China was necessary.
“There will be a lot we will learn through this,” Brooks said.