On Tuesday, a group of Republican congressmen who are also doctors sent a letter to Dr. Anthony Fauci seeking answers to their concerns about COVID-19 and the border crisis.
The questions from the Republican members of the Doctors Caucus primarily stem from a recent trip to the southern border by GOP members of Congress.
The letter, first obtained by The Daily Caller, reads, “In your role as Chief Medical Advisor to the President, we feel it is imperative that you use your position to publicly express your concerns over the national health emergencies created by this surge in illegal immigration.”
“The enormous number of migrants coming into this country who are COVID-19 positive cannot help stop this pandemic from a health perspective,” the letter reads. “We witnessed first-hand how our Customs and Border Protection agents are being overwhelmed.”
Reports about COVID and the border vary.
The Associated Press reports that one doctor, James Castillo of Cameron County, said immigration is just one factor in the spread of COVID, but not the biggest:
“Is it the biggest source of infection to our whole community?” he said, referring to migrants arriving with the virus. “No, it’s maybe one source, and there’s a lot of different sources. And it’s a shame that we’re going to create new sources by dropping the restrictions.”
The Scientific American ran a piece in February titled, “America’s Immigration System Is a COVID Superspreader,” noting that “ICE detention centers have some of the worst outbreaks in the country, endangering immigrants, staff and local communities.”
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, detention centers have ranked amongst the most dangerous settings in which to live and work. Since March, 2020. ICE facilities have experienced some of the worst outbreaks of the virus: as of February 24 of this year, some 9,569 detainees in total had tested positive for COVID-19. About 10 percent of those tested have had the virus, a figure which was 17 percent higher than the general U.S. population. In the time since ICE began testing its detainees, a detainee has died of the virus nearly every month.”
The Scientific American blames ICE for policies inconsistent with CDC guidelines.
The Republican doctors describe some problems they claim to have witnessed firsthand.
The letter stated, “At one illegal immigrant processing facility we visited, there were over 3,500 immigrants in a holding facility with a capacity of 250. We were informed that there had recently been over 5000 immigrants in the same facility.”
“These conditions do not meet your COVID-19 mitigation measures,” it continued. “As you well know, the spread of infectious diseases is horribly exacerbated in these conditions.”
The group then pressed Fauci to address these issues.
“As the top disease expert and director of a national agency overseeing an unprecedented virus, proper management of our country’s border and public health seems to fall precisely within your purview. As healthcare professionals with a wide range of specialties, we are extremely concerned about the pandemic worsening because of the crisis at the border,” the letter read.
The Republican doctors also wondered why Fauci has not visited the border.
In the past, Fauci has said he has “nothing to do with the border.”
These Republicans beg to differ.
“You are neglecting to weigh in on the public health emergency at the border, and we as physicians and healthcare professionals find this especially concerning,” the letter states.
“We believe the threat of COVID-19 spreading at the border is an issue that is directly under your jurisdiction.”
“For you to not address this in your particular position borders on neglect of duty,” the letter read.
The letter is signed by these Republican members of Congress includes Greg Murphy, Brad Wenstrup, Andy Harris, John Joyce, Brian Babin, Buddy Carter, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Drew Ferguson, Diana Harshbarger, Mark Green, Larry Bucshon, Ronny Jackson, and Scott DesJarlais.
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