Coronavirus is public health emergency in US, Trump administration says

Coronavirus is public health emergency in US, Trump administration says

The Trump administration on Friday declared the coronavirus a public health emergency in the United States, and announced that certain foreign nationals deemed to pose a risk of transmitting the disease will temporarily be denied entry the U.S. Some returning American citizens potentially at risk will be quarantined.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that President Donald Trump signed an order for the U.S. to deny entry to foreign nationals who have traveled to China within the past two weeks, aside from the immediate family of U.S. citizens.

Azar, speaking to reporters at the White House, also said that any U.S. citizens who have been in China’s Hubei province — home of Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus — within the last 14 days “will be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine to ensure they’re provided proper medical care and health screening.”

The risk to the American public is “low” at this time, said Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Azar called the measures “fairly incremental” and “appropriate, preventative steps.” Yet, officials said they wanted to ensure it would remain a low risk to Americans.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli, another member if the White House task force on the coronavirus, said incoming flights from China will be limited to just seven airports — San Francisco, Los Angeles International Airport, Seattle, New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, Atlanta, Honolulu and Chicago’s O’Hare — beginning Sunday.

The briefing came as markets plunged over fears about the fast-spreading virus’ potential economic impact.

The briefing included members of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, which includes national security advisor Robert O’Brien, Health Secretary Alex Azar and other leading officials. It is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET. You can watch it here.

Earlier Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quarantined 195 Americans who have been evacuated from Wuhan, China.

As of Friday afternoon, the coronavirus had infected roughly 10,000 people across the globe. In China, the virus is responsible for at least 213 deaths.

Redfield added at the White House press briefing Friday that 191 people in the U.S. are being investigated for the disease.

Also Friday, U.S. airlines including Delta, United and American announced they would suspend all remaining service to mainland China after a State Department warning put a damper on demand for flights there.

Airlines have said ticket sales for China have dropped sharply, a trend that will likely dent their first-quarter revenues.

Dozens of other large U.S. corporations, including Apple, Ford and Kraft Heinz, have already restricted their employees’ China business travel or scaled back operations because of the outbreak.

Here are the members of the White House’s coronavirus task force:

Secretary Alex Azar, Department of Health and Human Services

Robert O’Brien, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health

Deputy Secretary Stephen Biegun, Department of State

Ken Cuccinelli, Acting Deputy Secretary, Department of Homeland Security

Joel Szabat, Acting Under Secretary for Policy, Department of Transportation

Matthew Pottinger, Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor

Rob Blair, Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the Chief of Staff

Joseph Grogan, Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council

Christopher Liddell, Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Coordination

Derek Kan, Executive Associate Director, Office of Management and Budget

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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