Griffith says federal COVID-19 response could have been better ‘in hindsight,’ discusses economic concerns


ABINGDON, Va. (WJHL) – Ninth District GOP Congressman Morgan Griffith acknowledged the federal government has made some missteps in response to COVID-19 during a news conference in his office Tuesday. He also spoke of potential economic measures to help businesses and employees in the coming weeks.

“If you look at, ‘is this the best response we could have had under circumstances that were unpredictable,’ I think it probably is pretty darn close to doing real well,” Griffith said. “Are there things in hindsight we could have done better? Yes, there are.”

In addition to a shutdown of travel from China, Griffith said the government probably should have considered more quarantining and diligence at TSA.

Virginia 9th District Congressman Morgan Griffith

“Then once you had a hot spot like Seattle we probably should have started taking action to deal with making sure we isolated it more quickly than we did. In hindsight. But based on data from previous viruses everything we did was appropriate and actually the president’s actions were unprecedented based on prior models and based on how they thought this one would act.”

Another specific shortcoming Griffith mentioned involved testing for the virus.

“On testing, it’s coming,” he said. “I know everybody says, ‘why can’t you have it sooner?’

“There have been some problems at the CDC getting some of the RNA out of the virus to necessary to calibrate the tests.

“This was a government problem,” he added, “but once they backed away from saying you had to use only the CDC-approved test, private industry’s producing tests like crazy and we should by the middle of next week, end of next week have tests for anybody who legitimately has a concern.”

Griffith said he’s voted for both economic relief plans that have gone through Congress so far. “We’re trying to make sure both employers and employees have a little bit of a cushion if the Coronavirus costs them time at work, and every place of employment has to look at that,” he said.

“We’ve basically set up a three sizes fits all scenario in the latest bill. That’s probably not going to work for all businesses and we’re probably going to have to come back in and make exceptions or have the president do some executive orders depending on the business.

“We’re trying to respond to something that’s relatively unprecedented in the country and so we’re going to have to take some unusual actions.”

Griffith also said there has been discussion of a measure that would directly help citizens more directly than just through businesses, particularly given the widespread shutdowns of small businesses and the impacts to gig workers. “The Senate can change the bill we passed last week,” he said. “If they do that we will be called back to DC early.”

Griffith said like everyone else grappling with COVID-19, federal elected officials are human and are going to make mistakes.

“It is fluid, and I ask people to have patience with both the president and Congress because we are all doing the best we can.”

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