HHS Secretary warns of 'strong chance we'll see a resurgence' of COVID-19 in fall, new variants

Asked if the Office of Refugee Resettlement is overwhelmed with record border arrivals, Xavier Becerra said children aren't dying in federal custody or suffering "further trauma and stress because they don't have an adult guardian with them."

Updated: July 8, 2022 - 11:29pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra warned that there's a "strong chance we'll see a resurgence" of COVID-19 and new variants in the fall.

Becerra was asked if he foresees needing additional stimulus funds from Congress to respond to the pandemic. 

"We're going to do everything we can with the resources we have, and we'll let Congress know what we can do with the resources we have," Becerra told Just the News during an interview at the White House after the Medal of Freedom ceremony. "At the end of the day we need fuel. If we don't get more fuel, we'll take this vessel as far as we can when it comes to vaccination and the rest.

"What I will tell you is that come the fall and winter, most everyone who is an expert on pandemics and these viruses will tell you the strong chance that we'll see a resurgence of the virus, whether it's the variants that we have now or new variants." 

Becerra was asked if the Office of Refugee Resettlement within HHS is overwhelmed by the record number of migrants flooding the U.S.-Mexico border this year. 

"As you can see from the reports, we're not seeing children die in federal government custody, we're not seeing children suffer further trauma and stress because they don't have an adult guardian with them," he said. "We do everything we can to treat them as what they are: children. We've been fortunate to have a great team that's worked very hard to make it possible for us to provide them with the care and dignity that we would want to see any child have."

Just the News asked Becerra how HHS is able to find out if any unaccompanied minors without documentation have a criminal history before they get placed with a sponsor within the U.S.

"Fortunately, technology helps a lot, and we make sure we're not putting anyone in harm's way, and so we do every kind of background check that would be required, and we faithfully try to observe the law," he said. "We also believe morally we have an obligation to ensure that what we do is done right for the American people; it's done right for any child."