On Monday, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., called for President Donald Trump to name a coronavirus czar “to oversee interagency efforts and coordinate the federal response to the virus.”
Crist, who represents parts of Pinellas County, has been active in recent weeks, reaching out the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Florida Surgeon General, urging them to share more information, including on potential coronavirus cases in Florida.
With the CDC announcing on Monday that 18 people more people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus–bringing the total of confirmed cases in the nation to 53–Crist wrote Trump on the matter.
Crist wrote the following:
Dear Mr. President,
Recent news reports detail how the U.S. State Department overruled strong objections from the Centers for Disease Control in allowing 14 Americans who tested positive for the new coronavirus to board a commercial flight back to the United States. This incident suggests that precedent and chain of command were not followed in the appropriate manner, despite the gravity of the threat to the public’s health.
Given that different federal agencies with different mandates and jurisdictions can come to divergent conclusions, and with time of the essence in this growing crisis, it is important we have an empowered expert to oversee interagency efforts and coordinate the federal response. To that end, I recommend creating the position of Coronavirus Czar, filled by a universally trusted expert, to oversee this effort and report directly to you. This was the successful structure employed by President Obama to combat the Ebola virus in 2014, and it merits re-deployment in this situation.
With outbreaks of the new coronavirus now occurring in Italy, Iran, South Korea, and Singapore, the American people deserve a strong, clear, and unified response to ensure this pandemic does not overwhelm our nation. I appreciate your consideration of this proposal to help safeguard the health of the American people.