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Dingell Asks CDC for Update on Coronavirus Airport Screenings

Washington, January 21, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) requested the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for an update on what steps the agency is taking to ensure all travelers are safe from the recent outbreak of coronavirus in China.

Tuesday, the CDC expanded additional screening facilities at US airports, which now include New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Chicago O'Hare International Airport, and Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and that passengers from the affected region would be routed through these facilities. However, other airports, including Detroit Metropolitan Airport, have direct flights to and from Beijing and other areas where cases of the virus have been reported.

“People are concerned about the potential health implications of the virus and it is important that CDC continue to build on its proactive response to safeguard Americans’ public health and safety,” wrote Dingell. “Given the spread of this virus, as well as indications that human-to-human transmission is occurring, it is imperative that Congress and the American people be kept up-to-date on the latest steps that CDC is taking in light of these developments.”

Dingell’s letter to CDC Director Robert Redfield can be found here or below.

Dear Director Redfield:

            This letter is to inquire as to the steps that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is taking to address the recent outbreak of the coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. People are concerned about the potential health implications of the virus and it is important that CDC continue to build on its proactive response to safeguard Americans’ public health and safety.

            Since the outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus began last year, over 300 confirmed cases have been reported, including one in Washington State today. Given the spread of this virus, as well as indications that human-to-human transmission is occurring, it is imperative that Congress and the American people be kept up-to-date on the latest steps that CDC is taking in light of these developments.

At a press conference this afternoon, CDC indicated that it has expanded additional screening facilities at U.S. airports, which now include New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Chicago O'Hare International Airport, and Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and that passengers from the affected region would be routed through these facilities. However, other airports, including Detroit Metropolitan Airport, have direct flights to and from Beijing and other areas where cases of the virus have been reported.

With this in mind, please provide responses to the following questions and concerns:

1.      What steps will CDC be taking to ensure that these inbound flights are screened for potential cases of the Wuhan coronavirus?

2.      What steps is CDC taking to coordinate its response to the virus with other public health agencies, given that cases of the virus have now been reported in multiple countries?

3.      What other efforts are taking place to secure and protect travelers at other airports that do not have screening operations in place?

            Thank you for your urgent attention in this matter and your efforts to address public health and safety. I look forward to your prompt response.

            Sincerely,

            Debbie Dingell

            Member of Congress

CC: The Honorable Frank Pallone, Jr.

CC: The Honorable Anna Eshoo

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