Representatives Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL) sent a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to immediately call on China’s President Xi Jinping to aggressively expand regulation and enforcement of live animal markets, or to force the closure of non-compliant markets. Certain live animal markets slaughter a variety of animals for human consumption in unsafe and unsanitary conditions and are recognized breeding grounds for the spread of disease. Given that emerging reports and data provide evidence that the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease was transferred to humans from a specific live animal market, or “wet market,” in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, expanded oversight on public health grounds is urgently needed to prevent future deadly outbreaks of disease. (Please find the letter below and attached.)
“It has become clear that the loosely regulated and often inhumane conditions in which animals are slaughtered for human consumption in live animal markets can create ideal conditions for the spread of zoonotic diseases, such as COVID-19,” said Hastings. “We are currently facing a disease with grave global public health implications, which all nations must come together to address. In that spirit, we have a responsibility to sound the alarm now on the urgent need for expanded regulation, elevated enforcement, or closure of these markets to avoid future deadly outbreaks.”
"Live animal markets have been shown to be an incubator of deadly viruses like COVID-19,” said Buchanan. “These markets are unsanitary and inhumane and have led to the deaths of countless animals and humans. They should be shut down immediately to prevent the next outbreak of a deadly virus.”
“We need to address the root of where this devastating pandemic began and we implore local and federal governments to create change. Any lack of action with regards to addressing the source of this pandemic will present a danger for our future, and the threat that similar diseases will not only reoccur but expand. We continue to think of those across the world that have been gravely affected by COVID-19, and encourage global governments to put thought into action to stop this from happening again. This sadly is a stark reminder of what our Foundation has been fighting for since our inception and the incredible need to shut down slaughterhouses and illegal markets,” said Lisa Vanderpump, Founder of The Vanderpump Dog Foundation.
April 18, 2020
President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We write to express grave concerns with China’s lax regulation of live animal markets that have been directly connected to the spread of the COVID-19 disease and other zoonotic diseases.
In particular, we want to bring to your attention scientific reports and data that provide evidence that the virus that causes the disease COVID-19, was transferred to humans from a specific live animal market, or “wet market,” in Wuhan, the capital city of China’s Hubei province. Studies show that the virus is 95 percent genetically similar to a coronavirus in horseshoe bats and 70 percent similar to the SARS-CoV, the virus that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (“SARS”) in humans. The genetic similarities between these three viruses illustrate the ability of viruses found in animals to genetically mutate to allow for transmission to humans when they are in close contact.
Certain live animal markets keep a variety of domesticated animals and wildlife, including common and endangered species, in unsanitary and inhumane conditions where they are purchased and then slaughtered for human consumption in the same contaminated areas. The close proximity of animals to one another and to humans, as well as the on-site butchering, creates a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria to thrive and move from host to host, animal to human through contact. Scientists researching the virus suspect that the coronavirus moved from animals to humans via contact with, or the consumption of, animals from the identified live animal market. It is clear that the contaminated and inhumane conditions in which these animals are kept and killed present a danger to the health of humans, as proven by the global and devastating spread of the COVID-19 disease and other zoonotic diseases.
It is important to encourage President Xi Jinping to end these dangerous practices that spread diseases such as coronavirus. We urge you to discuss these concerns with President Xi and encourage him to ban the unsanitary and inhumane practice of purchasing live animals and butchering them in contaminated conditions on-site in these markets, to avoid future deadly viral outbreaks. We thank you for your time and consideration, and look forward to your response.
Alcee L. Hastings
Member of Congress
Member of Congress
Vice President Mike Pence
U.S. Coronavirus Taskforce
Room S-212, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20510
Secretary Mike Pompeo
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
 COVID-19: [Co]rona [Vi]rus [D]isease 20. The collection of signs and symptoms that present once infected with the virus. For further information on SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 naming and differentiation, please refer to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) article: “Naming the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the virus that causes it”
 Singhal, T. A Review of Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19). Indian J Pediatr 87, 281–286 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12098-020-03263-6.
 World Health Organization. Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19): Can humans become infected with the COVID-19 from an animal source? March 9, 2020; https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses.
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Vice-Chairman of the House Rules Committee, Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation.