Health secretary to visit Charlotte, meet medical workers on COVID-19 front lines

Health secretary to visit Charlotte, meet medical workers on COVID-19 front lines
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, shown with President Trump.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Charlotte Observer) - U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar will tour a COVID-19 testing site and meet with Franklin Graham during a visit to Charlotte on Thursday afternoon.

Azar will tour Atrium Health’s satellite testing center at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he’ll host a roundtable discussion with health care leaders, an official with the federal Department of Health and Human Services said.

He’ll also meet with Graham to discuss the work that N.C.-based Samaritan’s Purse is doing in response to the crisis.

Azar’s visit will come a day before North Carolina is expected to move into Phase Two of its gradual reopening. More businesses, including restaurants and bars, will be able to reopen on a limited basis.

“As states like North Carolina gradually reopen, we are ready to support them,” Azar said in a statement, “because getting Americans safely back to work and school is absolutely essential to a healthy, thriving country.

“Reopening our country is about health versus health: balancing the important health benefits of reopening and the health costs of staying closed against the health risks of the coronavirus, which North Carolina is making progress against every day. I’m looking forward to meeting with, hearing from, and thanking North Carolinians on the front lines combating the coronavirus about the hard work they’re doing and the steps we’re taking together to safely reopen.”

Democrats took the occasion to criticize the Trump administration’s handling of the crisis and what officials have called the lack of testing kits.

“During his visit to Charlotte I hope that instead of just posing for photos, Secretary Azar will recognize these needs and work to secure more tests and equipment for North Carolina’s heroes,” state Democratic chair Wayne Goodwin said in a statement.