Books, dogs, rustic living rooms: What we saw when the Senate held a remote coronavirus hearing

Books, dogs, rustic living rooms: What we saw when the Senate held a remote coronavirus hearing

A Congressional committee hearing on the coronavirus provided a unique look into the lives of the people leading the nation's fight against the virus and a different setting for such an inquiry.

There even appeared to be a barking dog on the call.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing called several witnesses on Tuesday to discuss the country's response to the coronavirus and the timeline of when states could or should begin opening back up.

Instead of speaking in a staid committee room, Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander conducted the hearing from his home, speaking in front of a fireplace, over which a landscape painting hung. Alexander is self-isolating after a staffer tested positive Sunday for the virus.

Alexander thanked the Rules Committee, Senate Sergeant at Arms Office and other officials for organizing the unusual setup, which occurred under a one-time exception to Senate rules.

Three top health officials who testified are each isolating themselves after coming into contact with someone who tested positive.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, answered questions from an office, sitting at a desk in front of packed bookshelves with more stacks of books on the floor.

The office setting of Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, was more formal. He spoke in front of an array of flags.

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn foiled anyone trying to scrutinize his location by blurring his background as he testified.

When C-SPAN’s cameras cut back to the committee room, they showed the handful of senators attending in person spread out around the room.

Some were maskless, including Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul who has said he doesn’t wear a mask because he’s already had COVID-19. The camera even caught Paul playing with his beard, a violation of the guidance that people refrain from touching their face to reduce the risk of getting infected.

Viewers responded with a mix of comedy and criticism.


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