Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says the recent case of the tuberculosis-infected world traveler points out many glaring problems that still exist in U.S. Homeland Security and at the Centers for Disease Control. Harkin took part in the Wednesday hearing during which Atlanta lawyer Andrew Speaker testified about his rare form of T-B and how he flew to Europe, then flew to Canada and drove back into the U.S.
Harkin says, "All of this money we’ve put into CDC for planning and preparation for infectious disease outbreaks, somehow, they have not been doing very good planning." Speaker, who’s still in quarantine, testified by phone from his hospital room in Denver before the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee.
Speaker testified he was repeatedly told he posed no threat and was not contagious, something health officials are now disputing. Harkin says it’s clear Speaker used bad judgment in his globe-trotting while infected with T-B, but also acknowledges Speaker was given mixed signals by the CDC.
Harkin says: "They dropped the ball on a number of occasions on this and this was someone who was well-known. My gosh, he came to them. He even called them from Rome. They didn’t call him. He called them and they still couldn’t handle it correctly." In light of terrorism and the possibility of a pandemic flu outbreak, Harkin says, of the CDC, "they’ve gotta’ get their act together."