U.S. Health Workers Responding to Coronavirus Lacked Training and Protective Gear, Whistle-Blower Says

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March air base in Riverside, Calif., housed 195 people evacuated from Wuhan, China, for 14 days beginning in late January, while Travis in Northern California has housed a number of quarantined people in recent weeks, including some of the nearly 400 Americans on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that had docked in Japan.

At a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee after the accusations surfaced, William A. Walters, a top medical official at the State Department, denied that any protocols had been broken.

“Every precaution has been taken,” said Dr. Walters, the head of operational medicine at the department’s Bureau of Medical Services. “I can say unequivocally that everyone involved with those evacuations were properly equipped and trained.”

Representative Richard E. Neal, Democrat of Massachusetts and the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said the complaint appeared to be part of a pattern of ineptitude and mistrust of civil servants by the Trump administration.

“The president has spent years assaulting our health care system, draining resources from key health programs, and showing utter disdain for career federal employees who are the backbone of our government,” Mr. Neal said in a statement provided to The Times. “It’s sadly no surprise we’re seeing this degree of ineptitude during a terrible crisis.”

Mr. Neal and Mr. Gomez requested additional information on Thursday evening from Mr. Azar, from the inspector general’s office at the Department of Health and Human Services and from the Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan watchdog, citing the concerns raised in the whistle-blower report.

In a pair of letters, Mr. Neal and Mr. Gomez formally requested a briefing from Mr. Azar within a week, saying that they were “deeply troubled that H.H.S. seems to have ignored valid public health concerns” as well as reports that the agency had retaliated against the whistle-blower instead of taking action.

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