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Roe says region is preparing well for COVID-19

Robert Houk • Mar 20, 2020 at 6:15 PM

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, told constituents calling in to a telephone Town Hall meeting on Friday he believes Northeast Tennessee is “preparing pretty well” to meet the challenges of the novel coronavirus.

Even so, Roe said “we are going to have people die in our state” from COVID-19.

“That’s going to happen,” the Johnson City lawmaker said.

Roe said he has “been a harsh critic” of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention for not making enough COVID-19 test kits available in the early stages of the pandemic. Roe noted Ballad Health now has multiple testing sites for the virus.

“We are getting that ramped up,” he said on the conference call.

The congressman said identifying new cases of COVID-19, and taking steps to reduce its transmission are important to battling the pandemic. He said social distancing, hand-washing and people covering their mouths and noses when they cough or sneeze will go a long way “to preventing a spike” in the spread of the virus.

Roe, a retired physician, also told a caller who said he was worried about how COVID-19 might effect him as a patient being treated for esophageal cancer to trust his doctor to provide the necessary protections.

“You need to continue treatment,” he said.

Roe also told the man that the “federal government is moving at light speed to help as many people as possible.”

The ranking Republican on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs said the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has had 88 veterans test positive for COVID-19 nationwide. The VA has reported that one has died.

“As many as 1 million veterans could get the virus,” he said. 

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