KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

White House Announces Task Force To Monitor Coronavirus; Media Outlets Report On Trump's Approach To Outbreak

AP: Wary of irking China, Trump offers rosy take on virus threat
“…Aides and confidants say Trump’s careful approach is part of a political strategy crafted to avoid upsetting the stock market or angering China by calling too much attention to the virus or blaming Beijing for not managing the situation better, according to a White House official and a Republican close to the White House. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private conversations. Later Wednesday, Trump tweeted out photos from a briefing on the virus he attended with administration officials in the Situation Room, writing that ‘we have the best experts anywhere in the world and they are on top of it 24/7!’…” (Superville et al., 1/30).

The Hill: White House announces task force to monitor coronavirus
“The White House on Wednesday announced the formation of a task force to monitor the coronavirus as global health officials seek to combat the outbreak of the disease in China. Press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement that the task force has met daily since Monday and will lead the government response to monitor and contain the disease. President Trump chaired a meeting on the matter at the White House earlier Wednesday. … Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar is leading the task force, the White House said. Other members include national security adviser Robert O’Brien, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield, top National Institutes of Health official Anthony Fauci, and several other administration officials…” (Samuels, 1/29).

Homeland Preparedness News: Sen. Markey urges Trump to reestablish global health “czar” position following coronavirus outbreak
“U.S. Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass.) is urging the Trump administration to reestablish the White House global health security and biothreats directorate within the National Security Council. In 2016, after the Ebola virus emerged, the Obama administration created the global health and biothreats ‘czar’ position. It was designed to establish a policymaking apparatus to tackle global pandemics. However, the position was eliminated in 2018 by the Trump administration, and resources for global health preparedness were drastically cut…” (Kovaleski, 1/29).

POLITICO: Trump has so far dodged becoming face of coronavirus crisis
“…So far, Trump’s moves are as a marked difference from the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, when he blasted former President Barack Obama for not imposing strict travel restrictions. The lower-profile approach he’s shown to date could keep paying dividends if confirmed cases continue to climb, as authorities expect. The outbreak already is providing an early test of a plan Trump unveiled in 2018 to respond to man-made and naturally occurring biological threats that designated HHS the lead federal department on viral pandemics, effectively wrangling up to a dozen agencies’ response…” (Owermohle et al., 1/29).

Additional coverage of the U.S. government response to the coronavirus outbreak domestically and abroad is available from Government Executive, The Hill, KHN, Mother Jones, NPR, POLITICO, Reuters, and USA TODAY.

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WHO Committee Meeting Again To Consider Emergency Declaration For Novel Coronavirus Outbreak; WHO Officials Praise China's Response

CIDRAP News: WHO experts to again weigh nCoV emergency status as more nations affected
“The World Health Organization (WHO) announced [Wednesday] that its novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) emergency committee will meet again [today] to assess if outbreak developments warrant a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), as China reported more than 1,400 new cases, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Finland report their first cases…” (Schnirring, 1/29).

Reuters: Human spread of virus in three countries outside China worrying: WHO chief
“The person-to-person spread of the new coronavirus in three countries — Germany, Vietnam and Japan — is worrying and will be considered by experts reconvened to consider declaring a global emergency, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday…” (Nebehay, 1/29).

STAT: WHO praises China’s response to coronavirus, will reconvene expert committee to assess global threat
“…WHO officials pointed to the still relatively small number of cases outside of China as a hopeful sign that the outbreak could be contained and transmission stopped. ‘We must commit to doing that together,” [Michael Ryan, the executive director of WHO’s health emergencies program,] said. Ryan and [WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus] both lauded China’s efforts to control the virus’ spread, with Ryan saying they had ‘never seen the scale, the commitment of an epidemic response at this level’ and that China was ‘taking extraordinary measures in the face of what’s an extraordinary challenge’…” (Joseph/Thielking, 1/29).

Additional coverage of the WHO emergency committee meeting, the international spread of coronavirus, and China’s response is available from Bloomberg (2), DW, The Guardian, The Hill, New York Times, PBS NewsHour, Reuters (2), Science Speaks, VOA News, and Washington Post.

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WHO Official Calls On 'Whole World' To Be On Alert For Coronavirus; Limited Data Hindering True Understanding Of Outbreak's Impact, Experts Say

AP: China counts 170 virus deaths, new countries find infections
“China counted 170 deaths from a new virus Thursday and more countries reported infections, including some spread locally, as foreign evacuees from China’s worst-hit region returned home to medical observation and even isolation…” (Moritsugu et al., 1/30).

Devex: Africa needs early detection of coronavirus, WHO says
“Vulnerable populations, including the poor and displaced, are at high risk of being affected by the potential spread of the coronavirus to Africa, the World Health Organization has warned. Recognizing the fact that high-density areas such as slums and displacement camps could serve as breeding grounds for the spread of the virus, WHO is helping countries prepare for a response. In doing so, it is also facing challenges such as limited laboratory capacity and existing outbreaks. The United Nations health body is focusing much of its efforts on 13 high priority countries on the continent…” (Jerving, 1/30).

STAT: Limited data may be skewing assumptions about severity of coronavirus outbreak, experts say
“Health officials in China, racing to try to contain a fast-growing coronavirus outbreak, are principally recording severe cases of disease, using a case definition that cannot capture patients with mild illness, according to experts familiar with the surveillance efforts. The approach, the experts told STAT, is likely resulting in both an underestimate in the total number of cases and flawed assumptions about fatality rates calculated by those who ignore the repeated caution that it’s too soon to do that math. The experts were quick to note that the Chinese are not willfully underreporting cases…” (Branswell, 1/30).

U.N. News: Coronavirus: First case confirmed in Gulf region, more than 6,000 worldwide
“…At a press briefing in Geneva on Wednesday, Michael Ryan, the head of the WHO health emergencies programme, said that ‘the whole world needs to be on alert now. The whole world needs to take action and be ready for any cases that come from the epicenter or other epicenter that becomes established.’ The actions of the Chinese authorities have, he said, helped to slow the international spread of the virus, but it has not been halted: ‘The continued increase in cases and the evidence of human-to human transmission outside China are of course most deeply concerning. Although the numbers outside China are still relatively small, they hold the potential for a much larger outbreak’…” (1/29).

Additional coverage of the coronavirus response in China and internationally is available from Bloomberg, DW, New York Times, NPR (2), Quartz, and Reuters.

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Media Outlets Report On Efforts To Develop Coronavirus Vaccine, Related Science

AFP: U.S. developing vaccine against deadly China virus: officials (1/28).

Financial Times: The scientist leading the race to develop a coronavirus vaccine (Kuchler et al., 1/29).

Foreign Policy: The Wuhan Virus Is Not a Lab-Made Bioweapon (Ling, 1/29).

Globe and Mail: Race is on as coalition sets tight timeline for coronavirus vaccine (Grant, 1/29).

The Hill: Scientists race to develop coronavirus vaccine. Experts say it could take over a year (Guzman, 1/29).

Reuters: Johnson & Johnson working on vaccine for deadly coronavirus (Mishra, 1/29).

STAT: In coronavirus response, AI is becoming a useful tool in a global outbreak, data experts say (Ross, 1/29).

The Telegraph: Australian breakthrough paves way for Wuhan virus vaccine (Smith/Newey, 1/29).

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European Aid Money For Africa Increasingly Tied To Efforts To Prevent Migration, Oxfam Report Says

AP: E.U. aid money for Africa may harm, not help, analysis finds
“European aid money earmarked for development in Africa is increasingly tied to how well countries can block their own citizens from trying to migrate across the Mediterranean and may be hurting the very people it is ostensibly intended to help, according to an analysis by the aid group Oxfam. The report, released Thursday, found that the 3.9 billion euros ($5.1 billion) splashed out in projects from 2015 to May 2019 were largely spent without public oversight, with decisions based on political reasons rather than need or effectiveness…” (Hinnant, 1/30).

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Research Funding For NTDs Declined By Nearly 10% Over Past Decade, G-FINDER Report Shows, Released On Inaugural World NTD Day

Forbes: Record Funding For Global Health Research, But Neglected Tropical Diseases Remain Neglected
“…The 2019 G-FINDER report, by Policy Cures Research, released on the first-ever World NTD Day, confirms that funding for NTD research is dropping. According to the report, overall funding for diseases that have a disproportional burden on poorer countries reached a new high in 2018 at just over USD 4 billion. But for NTDs, research funding has decreased, falling by nearly 10% over the past decade. … The G-FINDER report shows that HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis (TB) collectively received more than two-thirds ($2,799m, 69%) of all global funding for neglected disease R&D in 2018…” (Pai, 1/29).

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Advocates Attending First Global Forum On Childhood Pneumonia Call For More Treatment, Prevention Action To Save Up To 9M Child Lives

Devex: Increased action against pneumonia could save 9 million children
“As the first Global Forum on Childhood Pneumonia gets underway in Barcelona, Spain, advocates are calling for a boost in efforts to tackle the disease and avert the deaths of 9 million children in the next 10 years. According to analysis by Save the Children and Johns Hopkins University, scaling up pneumonia treatment and prevention services could save 3.2 million children under the age of 5 from pneumonia, and a further 5.7 million from other diseases such as diarrhea, sepsis, and measles…” (Root, 1/30).

U.N. News: Stepped-up efforts needed to combat pneumonia; save nearly nine million children’s lives
“… ‘If we are serious about saving the lives of children, we have to get serious about fighting pneumonia,’ said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. … The first-ever global forum on childhood pneumonia kicked off on Wednesday in Barcelona, Spain, and will include discussions on a more affordable pneumonia vaccine and political commitments from governments in high-burden countries to develop national strategies to reduce pneumonia deaths. The Global Forum on Childhood Pneumonia will run until Friday…” (1/29).

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India Increases Gestational Age For Legal Abortion From 20 To 24 Weeks

PTI/ET Healthworld: Cabinet approves raising of upper limit for permitting abortions to 24 weeks
“While addressing the media after the Cabinet meeting, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said the upper limit for permitting abortions has been extended from the present 20 weeks to 24 weeks. … He also said that this will ensure safe termination of pregnancies and also give women reproductive rights over their bodies. The extension to 24 weeks will also help victims of rape, girls with disabilities, as well as minors, who may not realize they are pregnant until later, he said…” (1/29).

Xinhua: India raises permissible limit for abortions from 20 to 24 weeks
“…An official statement issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare stated that the ‘Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020’ would be for ‘expanding access’ of women to safe and legal abortion services on therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian, or social grounds. … The proposed increase in gestational age will ensure dignity, autonomy, confidentiality, and justice for women who need to terminate pregnancy, added the Ministry’s statement…” (1/29).

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More News In Global Health

BBC: Venezuela crisis forced José abroad to access HIV drugs (Smith, 1/30).

Engadget: Microsoft backs AI in healthcare with a $40 million program (Fingas, 1/29).

The Guardian: Landmark case held on alleged sexual abuse of Ecuadorian schoolgirl (Hodal, 1/29).

The Guardian: ‘She can’t say no’: the Ugandan men demanding to be breastfed (Hunt, 1/28).

Homeland Preparedness News: Nuclear Threat Initiative CEO urges reduction of biological threat risk (Druga, 1/29).

The Lancet Infectious Diseases: Preparing for yellow fever vaccination (Devi, February 2020)

The Lancet Infectious Diseases: WHO celebrates 40 years since eradication of smallpox (Kirby, February 2020).

The Lancet Infectious Diseases: Gender disparities in neglected tropical diseases (Burki, February 2020).

Reuters: Amid malnutrition, crop diseases pose threat to Venezuela food supplies (Sequera et al., 1/29).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: As threats rise, African scientists delve into climate change health impacts (Peyton, 1/29).

U.N. News: End Syria fighting to avoid ‘even greater humanitarian catastrophe’ (1/29).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorials, Opinion Pieces Discuss Novel Coronavirus Outbreak, Epidemic Preparedness

Los Angeles Times: Editorial: Misinformation has become a secondary infection in the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
Editorial Board

“Scattered in with the legitimate news headlines circulating on social media regarding the deadly coronavirus outbreak are a worrisome number of fake news items and outright hoaxes. … Though rumors and misinformation have been a side effect of viral outbreaks for as long as humans have been plagued by them, social media networks now amplify irresponsible and hysterical memes that might otherwise remain on the fringes. … Clearly, the risk posed by the coronavirus is real. And there is no vaccine for it yet, though researchers are working to develop one. That means the best defense in the early stages of the outbreak is solid, trustworthy, science-based information. Kudos to the journalists, public health officials and social media platforms that are working to disinfect the false outbreak memes and inoculate the information channels with authentic and helpful information from actual health professionals” (1/30).

New York Times: Is the World Ready for the Coronavirus?
Editorial Board

“…Given the scope of these anxieties [surrounding the novel coronavirus outbreak], it’s a wonder more hasn’t been done to prepare for an outbreak like this one. … [T]rust may prove at least as important as technology and financial resources in keeping the coronavirus outbreak at bay — as global health workers learned during recent Ebola outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of Congo. American officials ought to keep that hard-learned lesson in mind. … What happens if people stop trusting the institutions meant to protect them from natural disasters, faulty medical products, or disease outbreaks? If the coronavirus proves especially contagious or deadly, that question will no longer be hypothetical. Nor will the consequences of an ‘America First’ worldview that treats global health security as unnecessary. … To its credit, the administration has managed to keep some of the world’s leading infectious disease experts in key roles at top agencies … If those professionals are given the resources and authority to respond to the crisis as their experience and the science dictate — if they are empowered to develop vaccines, deploy experts, and collaborate with response teams in affected regions — the worst-case scenarios may yet be averted. One hopes that will be the case. If so, the United States and the rest of the world will do well to learn from this experience. It will almost certainly not be the last time the world faces such a crisis” (1/29).

Washington Post: China tried to keep a lid on the coronavirus. It put everyone at risk.
Editorial Board

“Compared with the response in some previous outbreaks, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and swine flu in 2009, biomedical detective work got underway quickly in China in December, when people began to suffer a pneumonia-like illness. … But during all the weeks of this activity in December, Beijing largely kept the lid on information. It did not alert the public until well into January. The thought police were still on the beat, even as the virus spread. … The common reactions of Chinese leaders to crisis — strict secrecy, media censorship, desperate attempts to protect ‘stability’ and slavish adherence to central authority — were evident throughout the early period of the crisis, according to a detailed insider account published by the China Media Project. … This is the Chinese one-party state at work, worried less about people and more about permissions. … If there is anything positive to come of this, it is the vibrant grassroots reaction. China’s social media is afire with concern, despite the censors…” (1/29).

Bloomberg: China Had a Doctor Crisis Before Coronavirus Hit
Adam Minter, Bloomberg opinion columnist (1/28).

New York Times: Coronavirus Spreads, and the World Pays for China’s Dictatorship
Nicholas Kristof, New York Times opinion columnist (1/29).

New York Times: Beware the Pandemic Panic
Farhan Manjoo, New York Times opinion columnist (1/29).

Scientific American: Want to Prevent Another Coronavirus Epidemic?
William Haseltine, chair and president of ACCESS Health International (1/29).

The Telegraph: This could be the ‘disease X’ health experts fear — but we should have a test vaccine in just 16 weeks
Richard Hatchett, chief executive of CEPI (1/28).

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Opinion Pieces, Editorial Raise Awareness Of NTDs, Efforts To Treat, Prevent On Inaugural World Day

PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases: World neglected tropical diseases day
Peter J. Hotez, PLOS NTDs editor in chief, and colleagues

“…We must recognize that an unstable world has created an uncertain future for the control and elimination of the world’s NTDs. The current funding stream for preventive chemotherapy is fragile and under threat, and the current innovation ecosystem for new technologies is inadequate. World NTD Day is a time to acknowledge our successes, but also to recognize that the world’s poor will likely continue to suffer from NTDs in the absence of continued and expanded commitments from global leaders, policymakers, and the donor community” (1/29).

U.S. News & World Report: The Moral Imperative to Fight Tropical Diseases
Allyson Bear, former USAID public health specialist, and Andreas Nshala, who leads NTD work in Tanzania, both with Corus International

“…In order to eliminate extreme poverty around the world, the United States must continue to invest in what is one of the most successful foreign assistance programs in the country’s history. Through sustained American leadership and investment, U.S. Agency for International Development programs to combat NTDs have reached nearly 300 million people affected by disfiguring and debilitating diseases. Taxpayer funds are highly leveraged, making them smart fiscal investments for the U.S.: Every $1 in USAID investment has led to $26 in pharmaceutical donations used to fight these diseases. Faith-based humanitarian organizations are key partners with the U.S. government in carrying this fight against NTDs around the world. Their mission is rooted in the moral imperatives to prevent and alleviate human suffering and is precisely why faith-based organizations such as ours, IMA World Health, choose to prevent and treat NTDs in some of the world’s most challenging environments…” (1/29).

VOA News: Inaugural Observance of World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day
Editorial Board

“…Since the [USAID Neglected Tropical Diseases Program] began in 2006, USAID has helped leverage 22 billion dollars in donated drugs from five pharmaceutical companies. That has allowed 2.6 billion treatments of medicine to go to 1.3 billion people, or 1 out of every 6 people around the globe. Thus far, 10 USAID-supported countries have eliminated at least one neglected tropical disease as a public health problem. The United States believes that the first-annual World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day kicks off an important year in the fight against neglected diseases of poverty. Reducing the burden of disease and disability caused by NTDs is essential to improving the lives of the world’s poorest people” (1/30).

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UNICEF U.K. Report Provides Roadmap For British Leadership In Ending Preventable Child Deaths, Opinion Piece Says

Devex: Opinion: Now more than ever, DFID must lead efforts to end preventable child deaths
Kirtbir Chahal, policy adviser at UNICEF U.K.

“…Without radical action, 53 countries — predominantly in sub-Saharan Africa — are set to fall short of their SDG commitment to end preventable deaths of newborns and children under the age of 5. … World leaders need to act with renewed urgency and ambition. And who better to drive that change than the U.K. Department for International Development? The U.K. has long been a leader in global health, using aid to ensure children can survive and thrive, and the coming two years offer a fantastic opportunity to build on DFID’s technical expertise and leverage its soft power for good. Encouragingly, the U.K.’s secretary of state for international development, Alok Sharma, has announced that U.K. aid will prioritize investments to end preventable deaths of mothers, newborns, and children by 2030. But we continue to await details on how that will be done in practice. To show how the U.K. can use the next two years to build on its long history of leadership in child health, UNICEF U.K.’s new report, ‘Ending Preventable Child Deaths: How Britain Can Lead the Way,’ sets a road map for action on five priority issues hindering progress on child mortality…” (1/29).

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Women's Rights Advocates Will Continue To Push For Gender Equality, Reproductive Rights In 2020, Head Of IWHC Writes In Opinion Piece

Project Syndicate: What’s at Stake for Women’s Rights in 2020?
Françoise Girard, president of the International Women’s Health Coalition

“…This year marks the 25th anniversary of the United Nations’ Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which recognized women’s rights as human rights and established gender equality’s place on the global agenda. Since the platform’s creation, activists have used it to hold governments to their commitments on a wide range of issues, including maternal mortality, child marriage, gender-based violence, political participation, and reproductive rights. Feminist activists will continue this work at the Beijing+25 Generation Equality Forum, convened by Mexico and France, in Mexico City in May and Paris in July. … The U.S. presidential election in November will be particularly consequential. For better or worse, the U.S. has an outsize impact on how the rest of the world addresses issues ranging from climate action and foreign aid to diplomacy and human rights. If Trump loses the election, the U.S. could again set a positive example, reviving multilateral cooperation, renewing support for U.N. agencies working on health and human rights, and ensuring that key government and judicial posts are once more occupied by qualified individuals who support human rights and the rule of law. But, whatever happens, one thing is certain: the feminist movement and its progressive allies will not give up” (1/29).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Friends Of Global Fight Infographic Depicts Impacts Of U.S. $1.56B Global Fund Investment

Friends of the Global Fight: INFOGRAPHIC: What does $1.56 billion buy?
Friends of the Global Fight released an infographic depicting the impacts of a $1.56 billion investment in the Global Fund by the U.S. According to the post, “Maintaining a $1.56 billion appropriation for fiscal year 2021 would equal a $4.68 billion U.S. contribution over the three-year Replenishment cycle and ensure that other donors follow through on their commitments” (1/29).

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Experts Discuss Foreign Assistance Accountability, Challenges In Fragile Environments

Brookings: Foreign assistance accountability in fragile environments
Susanna Campbell, assistant professor at American University’s School of International Service, and George Ingram, senior fellow at Brookings’ Global Economy and Development program, discuss foreign assistance accountability, trends over time, and the limitations in fragile environments (1/29).

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Blog Includes Q&A With Experts On NTD-Related Issues In Recognition Of First World Day

PLOS Blogs’ “Speaking of Medicine”: World NTDs Day — a Q&A with our Editors-in-Chief
The editors in chief of PLOS’ Blogs’ “Speaking of Medicine” solicited questions and answers on topics related to neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in recognition of the first World NTDs Day, held on January 30. This blog post includes the questions and answers provided by researchers, experts, and readers (1/29).

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IntraHealth Blog Post Outlines 10 Achievements In Family Planning In Last Decade

IntraHealth International’s “Vital”: Ten Defining Family Planning Achievements of the Decade
Brittany Goetsch, program officer at Johns Hopkins University, discusses 10 achievements in family planning from the last decade that have “shaped and continue to inform family planning programs and services” (1/29).

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From the U.S. Government

New FDA Mobile-Friendly, Interactive Database Houses Information On ARVs Eligible For Purchase Under PEPFAR

U.S. Food & Drug Administration: FDA launches mobile-friendly database with information on life-saving HIV drugs as part of ongoing mission to empower the public through increased access to information and data
“[Wednesday], the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced the launch of an interactive database that will offer a wealth of critical information about antiretrovirals (ARVs) eligible for purchase under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program. This launch is an important step in our ongoing commitment to address the global HIV epidemic and is consistent with our efforts to modernize and improve access to information and unleash the power of data…” (1/29).

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USG Evacuates Americans From Wuhan, China Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

U.S. Department of State: Evacuation of Americans from Wuhan, China
“[Wednesday] morning, a flight from Wuhan carrying U.S. government personnel and some private Americans safely landed in California. As we have previously noted, these travelers will be carefully screened and monitored by the health experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Health and Human Services (HHS). All appropriate steps are being taken to safeguard the health of these returning Americans, as well as the health and safety of their fellow Americans here at home…” (1/29).

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