Government Eyes War Powers to Speed Medical Manufacturing Ahead of Virus

“Like everyone else, I want to know what the facts are,” said Senator Patty Murray of Washington, the top Democrat on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, in an interview.

The inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services said on Friday that it would begin a “comprehensive review” of the federal government’s coronavirus response, accelerating a process that had already been underway. Mr. Azar said he had been unaware of the concerns raised in the whistle-blower complaint before this week.

Investigators were eyeing the health agency’s repatriation of American citizens, its treatment of quarantine sites and its hospital preparedness program, a spokeswoman for the inspector general’s office said.

“Because of the heightened concern, we had already been planning to look into this and do a review,” Tesia Williams, the spokeswoman, said. “We began to get additional information on top of that.”

But a Friday morning briefing with House members appeared to do little to assuage some of the concerns and frustration about how prepared the federal government was to respond to the outbreak in the United States.

“The question I asked was, ‘What assurances do we have that proper protocols were followed during the federal quarantine?’” said Representative Mark Takano, Democrat of California. The answer, he said, “was not as responsive as I would have liked.”

Four House Democrats from California — Mr. Takano, John Garamendi, Scott Peters and Jimmy Gomez — pressed for an additional briefing with health officials about the possible spread of the virus. Representatives Takano, Garamendi and Peters represent districts where there are cases of unknown origin or exposed people who have been quarantined, and Mr. Gomez’s office was the first to learn of the whistle-blower complaint.

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