Five senators want President Biden to stop travel between the U.S. and China until Americans learn more about the surge in respiratory illness that is flooding hospitals in Beijing and northern China.
Chinese officials told the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention they are suffering from a surge in known pathogens, including respiratory syncytial virus and the bacteria that causes “walking pneumonia” in children.
However, the Senate Republicans on Friday said Beijing obfuscated the origins of COVID-19 in late 2019 and cannot be trusted now.
“We call on you to immediately restrict travel between the United States and the [People’s Republic of China]. As you know, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has a long history of lying about public health crises,” says the letter from Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, J.D. Vance of Ohio, Rick Scott of Florida, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama and Mike Braun of Indiana.
Medical experts say the surge in childhood pneumonia could be caused by seasonal cycles in the northern hemisphere, particularly since many children were not exposed to certain pathogens during the lockdown period of the COVID-19 crisis.
Denmark, the Netherlands and parts of Ohio and Massachusetts have reported similar surges in childhood respiratory problems.
However, the Republican senators said Mr. Biden should not take Beijing’s claim about “known pathogens” at face value. Shutting off travel now, they said, could spare the U.S. from the type of draconian measures that were taken during the COVID-19 crisis.
“If history is any indication, we have cause to be concerned,” they wrote. “CCP has an incentive to lie, just as they did throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and any new pathogen could derail its efforts to stimulate its economy.”
The senators also are unwilling to rely on information relayed from China through the World Health Organization, citing the organization’s deference to China in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We should not wait for the WHO to take action given its track record of slavish deference to the CCP,” they said. “We must take the necessary steps to protect the health of Americans, and our economy.”
The Washington Times reached out to the White House for comment on the letter.
The Trump administration cut off travel between the U.S. and China in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. However, the virus spread to South Korea, Italy and other places and appeared first in the Pacific Northwest before devastating the entire U.S.