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Dingell Presses for Details on Quarantine Process for Travelers Arriving from China

Washington, February 3, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) pressed US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar for details about the quarantine process that the Administration announced for all travelers arriving from China. Secretary Azar chairs the Trump Administration’s Coronavirus Task Force, which recently announced new policies to combat the coronavirus.

“On January 31, the President’s Coronavirus Task Force announced flights from China will begin to be funneled through 11 airports in the United States with screening and quarantining facilities, including Detroit Metropolitan Airport. These procedures are intended to prevent the spread of cases from the epicenter of the outbreak to areas in the United States,” wrote Dingell. “However, given the continued spread of the virus, which has now been reported in 24 countries, it is important that we be given information about the specifics surrounding these measures.”

Last month, Dingell asked the CDC for an update on coronavirus screenings at international airports such as Detroit Metro, and successfully fought for screening for passengers at the largest international airport in Michigan. Dingell also pressed leading social media companies to take action to prevent the spread of misinformation on coronavirus. As a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, she will continue to conduct oversight on the Administration’s response to the virus.

The full copy of the letter can be found here or below.

Dear Secretary Azar:

This letter is to follow-up on briefings provided last week to the Congress and inquire as to the specifics of the President’s Coronavirus Task Force’s response to the ongoing Wuhan coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak. Given the recent proliferation of cases in China, the United States, and other countries, it is important that the Task Force continues to build on its aggressive response while promptly communicating updates to the public and key stakeholders.

Since its emergence in December 2019, the Wuhan coronavirus has spread rapidly, with over 17,000 cases in Asia and 11 confirmed cases in the United States, including a documented case of human-to-human transmissibility. The virus has also caused 362 confirmed deaths, and its rapid spread demands a strong response from United States’ public health agencies and international organizations in order to safeguard Americans’ public health and safety.

On January 31, the President’s Coronavirus Task Force announced flights from China will begin to be funneled through 11 airports in the United States with screening and quarantining facilities, including Detroit Metropolitan Airport. These procedures are intended to prevent the spread of cases from the epicenter of the outbreak to areas in the United States. However, given the continued spread of the virus, which has now been reported in 24 countries, it is important that we be given information about the specifics surrounding these measures.

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

1.      Please provide additional detail on the agreement between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Homeland Security to funnel passengers to the expanded list of U.S. airports. How will the screening and quarantining procedures work in practice when an individual or flight arrives at one of these airports? Are there enough resources available to meet expected needs?

2.      Given the expected increased need for medical equipment both in the United States and abroad as a result of the coronavirus, are the CDC and other public health agencies properly resourced to meet this increased demand?

3.      How is the President’s Coronavirus Task Force coordinating with state and local health agencies to address the coronavirus outbreak?

4.      What actions is the Coronavirus Task Force taking to combat the spread of misinformation relating to the Wuhan coronavirus?

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

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