The acting Department of Homeland Security official who detailed the effects of temperature on coronavirus at yesterday’s White House task force briefing has extensive military experience but is not a scientist, nor does he have a medical background.
As the Department of Homeland Security senior official performing the duties of the undersecretary for Science and Technology, Bill Bryan holds an influential perch with far-reaching authority over research, development and testing at the agency as well as for first responders across the country.
Before joining the agency in 2017, Mr Bryan held a number of leadership roles at the Department of Energy and Department of Defense, and served 17 years of active military service in the Army and three years in the Virginia National Guard, according to his Department of Homeland Security biography.
Mr Bryan’s department biography does not refer to him as a doctor, nor did President Donald Trump introduce him as one.
Mr Bryan holds a bachelor’s degree in logistics systems management from Colorado Technical University and a master of science in strategic intelligence from the Joint Military Intelligence College in Washington, DC.
From 2015 to 2017, Mr Bryan was president of ValueBridge International’s Energy Group – an organisation that provides “sustainable energy solutions to improve human lives around the world”, according to his Linkedin page.
His years as a civil servant, however, haven’t come without controversy.
The New York Times reported in 2018 that American and Ukranian government officials expressed concern about whether Mr Bryan was being co-opted by a Ukranian company seen as aligned with an oligarch when he was leading a team dispatched by the US government to help Kiev shore up its energy supply.
Those concerns heightened, the Times reported, after Mr Bryan later joined ValueBridge and pursued business with the company.
Mr Bryan told the newspaper at the time that he “never made a dime off any of the people I knew from the Ukraine, deliberately, because I didn’t want to violate any of the ethics rules”.
Coronavirus: what you need to know
What is the difference between COVID-19 and the flu?
The symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu are very similar, as they both can cause fever and respiratory issues.
Both infections are also transmitted the same way, via coughing or sneezing, or by contact with hands, surfaces or objects contaminated with the virus.
The speed of transmission and the severity of the infection are the key differences between COVID-19 and the flu.
The time from infection to the appearance of symptoms is typically shorter with the flu. However, there are higher proportions of severe and critical COVID-19 infections.
What is social distancing?
Social distancing involved minimising contact with people and maintaining a distance of over one metre between you and others.
When practicing social distancing, you should avoid public transport, limit non-essential travel, work from home and skip large gatherings.
It is okay to go outdoors. However, when you do leave home, avoid touching your face and frequently wash your hands.
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