Administration to give Senate briefing on coronavirus

Administration to give Senate briefing on coronavirus
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Senators are set to hear from top federal health officials Friday regarding the outbreak of the new coronavirus originating in China.

The administration’s briefing will be jointly hosted by the Senate Health and Foreign Relations committees, the panels said in a joint statement on Thursday.

"The novel coronavirus is an emerging public health threat. Senators will have the opportunity to hear directly from senior government health officials regarding what we know about the virus so far, and how our country is prepared to respond as the situation develops," Health Committee Chairman Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderNegotiators hit gas on coronavirus talks as frustration mounts Chamber of Commerce endorses Ernst for reelection Pelosi huddles with chairmen on surprise billing but deal elusive MORE (R-Tenn.) and ranking member Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayPelosi huddles with chairmen on surprise billing but deal elusive House approves two child care bills aimed at pandemic GOP, Democratic relief packages B apart on vaccine funding MORE (D-Wash.) said.

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Earlier on Thursday, Sen. Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyThe Hill's Campaign Report: Even the Post Office is political now | Primary action tonight | Super PACS at war Markey offers apology to family of unarmed Black teen amid criticism The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden's latest plan on racial inequality MORE (D-Mass.), ranking member on the East Asia subcommittee, asked the departments of Health and Human Services and State for answers on their responses to the virus, which was officially detected in the United States for the first time last week, after infecting more than 500 people in China and killing at least 17. 

The risk to the broader American public is considered low, but the situation is still evolving.

Chinese authorities have responded by locking down three cities with a combined population of about 18 million people, including the transit hub of Wuhan, where the outbreak is thought to have originated.

The State Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel advisory for China earlier Thursday, urging people to seek medical help if they feel sick after traveling in the affected area. 

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization on Thursday declined to declare a public health emergency over the virus, but said it recognizes the potential danger for China if it continues spreading.