White House announces task force to monitor coronavirus

White House announces task force to monitor coronavirus
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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 GrishamStephanie GrishamSupreme Court allows 'public charge' rule to take effect nationwide Pelosi blasts Trump's 'dangerous' pick for intelligence chief Lawyers to seek asylum for Assange in France: report MORE 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 TrumpDonald John TrumpWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Democrats duke it out in most negative debate so far MORE chaired a meeting on the matter at the White House earlier Wednesday.

"The risk of infection for Americans remains low, and all agencies are working aggressively to monitor this continuously evolving situation and to keep the public informed," Grisham said.

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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.

The coronavirus outbreak has killed at least 132 people in China, with more than 6,000 confirmed cases of infection. There are only five confirmed cases in the U.S.

U.S. officials on Wednesday got the go-ahead to travel to China to study the coronavirus, lawmakers told The Hill. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also received permission to send a team of experts to collaborate with the Chinese government. 

Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonOvernight Defense: More closures possible at US bases in Europe as coronavirus spreads | Pompeo says Afghan 'reduction in violence is working' | Man accused of trying to blow up vehicle at Pentagon Top general: More closures at US bases in Europe possible as coronavirus spreads Limbaugh claims coronavirus is being 'weaponized' to 'bring down' Trump MORE (R-Ark.) on Tuesday called for the administration to implement a “targeted travel ban” to stop the spread of the disease. Officials have thus far been reluctant to take such a significant step to restrict travel.

--Updated at 11:32 p.m.