New coronavirus case detected in US

Federal health officials have discovered a new case of the coronavirus in the U.S., Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told a congressional committee Wednesday.

“As of this morning, we still had only 14 cases of the novel coronavirus detected in the United States involving travel to or close contacts with travelers,” Azar told members of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee. “Coming into this hearing, I was informed that we have a 15th confirmed case, the epidemiology of which we are still discerning.”

There are now about 60 total cases of the virus in the country, including the 42 people brought back to the U.S. who were aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

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Azar sought to downplay the risk of the virus to Americans, even as other health officials have stressed that the virus is likely to become a pandemic and that a wider spread in the United States is inevitable.

“While the immediate risks to the American public remain low, there is now community transmission in a number of places, including outside of Asia, which is deeply concerning,” Azar said. “We are working closely with state and local and private sector partners to prepare for mitigating the virus’s potential spread in the United States as we expect to see more cases here.”

The Trump administration has requested $2.5 billion to combat the coronavirus, including $1.25 billion in new funding, with the rest to be taken from existing health programs, including $535 million from fighting Ebola.

Lawmakers have bristled over the Trump administration's handling of the coronavirus and have said the administration's request is too low. 

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is requesting $8.5 billion in emergency funding. House Democrats are also eyeing a higher number, though aides said it was too early to say how much they think is needed.