John Cornyn Praises US COVID-19 Response, Remains Critical Of Chinese ‘Wet Markets’

The Texas senator has drawn criticism for his characterizations of the origins of the virus.

By Jill AmentMarch 30, 2020 12:16 pm, ,

With Congress’ passage last week of a $2 trillion aid package to address COVID-19, federal funds are expected to make their way to businesses and individuals who have been hard-hit by the pandemic. In Texas, efforts to contain the virus and treat those affected continue to expand, as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose to 2,500. President Donald Trump has extended social-distancing guidelines through the end of April. 

Texas Sen. John Cornyn announced an additional $237 million in federal funds for Texas emergency response efforts. He spoke on Monday with Texas Standard host David Brown. Cornyn says the money will go to first responders, and “to help hospital personnel, primarily.”

Part of the $2 trillion stimulus package signed by President Trump will provide money for individuals, as well as increased unemployment benefits.

“A family of four making up to $150,000 could receive as much as $3.400,” Cornyn says. “This is going to be distributed, hopefully, direct-deposited through the IRS.”

Cornyn says the package also aids small businesses.

“We’re trying to help them stay alive, so that when we defeat this virus, which we will, there will be jobs available to people on the back end,” he says.

Cornyn has been critical of China’s response to COVID-19, telling Texas Standard that the United States shouldn’t depend on China to supply medical equipment that is now in short supply. He praised the U.S. private sector and the federal government for their efforts to provide protective equipment to first responders and health care workers.

Cornyn has also echoed Trump’s attacks on China as the source of coronavirus.

“China has been the source of a lot of these viruses like SARS, like MERS, the swine flu and now the coronavirus,” Cornyn told The Hill, earlier this month. He went on to say that China is to blame because of “the culture where people eat bats and snakes and dogs and things like that.”

Cornyn has been heavily criticized on social media, and called racist for incorrect claims about the origins of past virus epidemics. Cornyn told The Texas Standard that his statement was not critical of Chinese people.

“I was directing people’s attention to these wet markets that operate in some parts of China, which have been the source of viruses that have jumped from animals to people,” Cornyn says. “SARS is one example, and it appears now that this novel coronavirus has also jumped from animals that are collected and used for food in China in these wet markets with very unsanitary conditions.”

Scientists believe COVID-19 developed in the natural world, either by evolving within animal hosts and then jumping to humans, or making the jump to human hosts, at which point the virus evolved to become dangerous to humans. A “wet” or wildlife market is one where dead and live animals are sold. A wet market in Wuhan, China is a probable source of the virus, which has spread around the world..

Cornyn calls the possible origins of COVID-19 a “wake-up call” to China to shut down wet markets.

Cornyn says the consumption of unusual meat sources in Texas, including rattlesnakes, isn’t comparable to the situation at Chinese wet markets.

“It’s counterfactual for people to suggest that this is somehow a commentary on Asians or Chinese,” he says. “This is a factual statement that’s well borne out by the news media, that these open markets – these wet markets in China – are the source of the virus. They can ignore that if they want, or they can pursue some other agenda, but that’s the fact.”


Written by Shelly Brisbin.