Iowa’s senior senator took part in what he says was a “top secret” briefing in a congressional chamber this morning to discuss the impact of the coronavirus.
In a conference call with Iowa reporters, Senator Chuck Grassley didn’t want to reveal many details of the briefing but did say he met with officials from several federal agencies involved with public health. Grassley downplayed the security level of the meeting.
“Top secret is not the highest level of secrecy,” Grassley says. “I’m just a guy that keeps my mouth shut about what goes on in these secret briefings. By the way, we meet in a room that is a secure room, so you know it is important.”
Some Iowa businesses that rely on China for the bulk of their products report they’re being hurt by the massive quarantines in those countries that have halted production on a host of goods. Grassley acknowledges coronavirus is being taken very seriously from both health and economic angles. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1,000 points Monday — its worst drop in two years — based on Wall Street fears of the coronavirus throttling financial markets.
“It is hurting the supply chain. It is having an impact on the economy,” Grassley says. “It’s going to affect gross domestic product growth for the United States, for sure for China — more so, but it’s going to have a worldwide impact.” Grassley says he’s confident health officials in the U.S. are handling the virus situation properly. He emphasizes that the big worry is how other nations are responding and how they’re communicating about outbreaks.
“It is difficult to know the certainty of information that you get from other countries,” Grassley says. “There’s concern about the extent to which South Korea over the weekend had 5, 6, 700 cases all of the sudden. Italy had 80 cases all of a sudden.”
The number of coronavirus cases has exceeded 80,000 globally with more than 2,700 deaths, most of them in China.