Lawmakers call on US officials to evacuate Americans from quarantined cruise ship

Lawmakers call on US officials to evacuate Americans from quarantined cruise ship
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A group of lawmakers is calling on the Trump administration to evacuate more than 400 U.S. citizens from a cruise ship quarantined due to an outbreak of coronavirus. 

The letter from nine House lawmakers to the administration calls for the 428 U.S. citizens on the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined off of Japan to be tested and evacuated to finish their quarantine in the United States. 

“From firsthand accounts, we are concerned about the existing level of care available on the ship, particularly to the 428 U.S. citizens aboard, as well as the national security concerns posed by reported quarantine conditions,” the lawmakers, led by Rep. Phil RoeDavid (Phil) Phillip RoeTennessee lawmaker bought stocks in Zoom, sold cruise line shares before market plunge House committees move toward virtual hearings for COVID-19 era As VA's budget continues to Increase, greater oversight is required MORE (R-Tenn.), write. “While we understand this is a fluid situation because of the fast-moving nature of the outbreak, we are writing to strongly encourage you to test asymptomatic U.S. citizens as soon as possible and evacuate and quarantine those who test negative for the coronavirus in a U.S.-based facility.”

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The cruise ship is the densest concentration of coronavirus cases outside of China, where the outbreak began. 

The lawmakers point to reports that there have been 218 cases of coronavirus on the ship out of 3,600 passengers. “A lack of medical expertise on the ground is leading to ineffective quarantine conditions,” they write.

“Senior CDC staff are working across the government ... as well as with folks in Japan to figure out a plan,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, a top official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters Friday. “It’s important to all of us these people are safe and taken care of.”

“Discussions are ongoing, but when there is a specific plan we will let you know,” she added. 

Nathaniel Weixel contributed.