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 GrishamPence names new press secretary McEnany: Prayer 'made a lot of difference' in 2016 election McEnany stamps her brand on White House press operation 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 TrumpMichael Flynn transcripts reveal plenty except crime or collusion 50 people arrested in Minneapolis as hundreds more National Guard troops deployed Missouri state lawmaker sparks backlash by tweeting 'looters deserve to be shot' 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 CottonDemocrats call on FTC to investigate allegations of TikTok child privacy violations GOP senators urge Trump not to restrict guest worker visas Chinese official accuses US of 'pushing our two countries to the brink of a new Cold War' 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.