Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, sold between $628,000 and $1.72 million of his stocks in 33 separate transactions on Feb. 13, during a time when he received daily classified briefings on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, ProPublica reports. Since Burr's sales, the stock market has taken a dive, dropping about 30 percent.
On Feb. 7, Burr co-wrote an op-ed saying the United States is "better prepared than ever before to face emerging public health threats, like the coronavirus." He privately shared a more dire opinion on Feb. 27; in a recording obtained by NPR, Burr told members of a social club in North Carolina that the new coronavirus was "much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history" and is "probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic."
Burr also warned it was likely people would be told to change their travel plans and stay in isolation at home, and the military would possibly have to step in if the coronavirus overwhelmed hospitals.
By law, members of Congress must disclose their securities transactions, and during a review of Burr's records, ProPublica found he sold stocks in companies that would get hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic — he dumped up to $150,000 worth of shares of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts and up to $100,000 in shares of the hospitality chain Extended Stay America. The tourism industry has taken a beating during the pandemic, with people canceling reservations in order to stay in isolation at home. Read more at ProPublica.