Trump directs government to step up defenses against bioterrorism

Trump directs government to step up defenses against bioterrorism

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBroward County official Brenda Snipes submits resignation after criticism Retired lieutenant general tears into Trump over attacks against Navy SEAL: 'Disgusting' Senate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks MORE on Tuesday signed a memorandum directing his administration to step up efforts to fight bioterrorism and other biological threats.

Trump’s order establishes a Biodefense Steering Committee, led by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, to coordinate defense efforts across the federal government, and tasks the national security adviser with reviewing threats and updating preparations on an annual basis.

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“My Administration is focused on strengthening our Nation’s defenses against the full range of threats to our health and security, including those of a biological nature,” Trump said in a statement. “With these actions today, I am reaffirming my unwavering commitment to protecting the American people, the American homeland, and the American way of life.”

Azar told reporters Tuesday that biological threats “are very real and they’re growing.”

The planning is meant to counter both man-made biological weapons and naturally occurring diseases like Ebola, Azar said.

National security adviser John Bolton said there is “no particular immediate threat” that spurred the new preparations, but that the government wanted to increase its actions to guard against biological risks.

Countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo are in the midst of fighting Ebola cases, which Azar pointed to as an example of a disease that the U.S. government would step up its planning for as well.