The decision to allow the infected passengers to return to the U.S. also reportedly infuriated President Donald Trump.
“The process by which this decision was reportedly made is troubling,” Warren wrote.” As the global coronavirus public health emergency continues, it will be essential for the leadership of all the relevant agencies to have a clear, responsive, and integrated process for responding to new circumstances and incorporating expert advice.”
In her letter, Warren asked for further clarification about which agency was at the top of the chain of command when it came to the ship’s evacuation, and whether there have been any changes to the pecking order. In addition, she asked under what circumstances the State Department can overrule the CDC and if HHS is involved at all in the decision-making process.
The Massachusetts Democrat also inquired about the standard protocol for treating and transporting a U.S. citizen back to America infected with coronavirus in the future.
“These questions are particularly urgent given the announcement yesterday by a top CDC official that ‘we expect we will see community spread (of coronavirus) in the United States,” Warren said.
Warren’s letter comes amid heightened concerns on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers from both parties have grilled Trump administration officials in recent days over the White House’s handling of the coronavirus.
It also comes as the virus hit South America for the first time, with officials in Brazil announcing on Wednesday that a man who recently returned from Italy, where there have been more than 300 confirmed cases, tested positive for the coronavirus.
Only a handful of Americans have been affected so far, but CDC officials warned this week that the virus could soon become a pandemic. The stock market plummeted on Monday and Tuesday amid rising global fears of severe economic impacts from the virus, which has already disrupted financial markets and economic hubs worldwide — particularly in Asia.
Warren requested a response to her letter by March 11.
Andrew Desiderio contributed to this report.