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 GrishamIvana Trump on Melania as first lady: 'She's very quiet, and she really doesn't go to too many places' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump uses White House as campaign backdrop Coronavirus tests not required for all Melania Trump speech attendees: 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 TrumpUS reimposes UN sanctions on Iran amid increasing tensions Jeff Flake: Republicans 'should hold the same position' on SCOTUS vacancy as 2016 Trump supporters chant 'Fill that seat' at North Carolina rally 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 CottonTom Bryant CottonRenewed focus on Trump's Supreme Court list after Ginsburg's death Republicans call for DOJ to prosecute Netflix executives for releasing 'Cuties' Loeffler calls for hearing in wake of Netflix's 'Cuties' 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.