Overnight Health Care — Presented by Philip Morris International — HHS has no plans to declare emergency over coronavirus | GOP senator calls for travel ban to stop outbreak | Warren releases plan to contain infectious diseases

Overnight Health Care — Presented by Philip Morris International — HHS has no plans to declare emergency over coronavirus | GOP senator calls for travel ban to stop outbreak | Warren releases plan to contain infectious diseases
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Welcome to Tuesday's Overnight Health Care.

U.S. health officials are not yet ready to declare the coronavirus a public health emergency. A GOP senator, though, wants Trump officials to institute a travel ban from China. Meanwhile, Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenJack Black endorses Elizabeth Warren Democrats view Sanders as having best shot to defeat Trump: poll Poll: Biden, Sanders tied in Texas, followed by Warren MORE has another plan, this time to fight infectious diseases.

We'll start with the latest on the coronavirus...

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HHS chief: No plans to declare public health emergency over coronavirus

Top federal health officials have a message for Americans concerned about the Chinese coronavirus: Don't panic. 

The Trump administration has no current plans to declare a public health emergency over the Wuhan coronavirus, HHS Secretary Alex Azar told reporters Tuesday.

Azar said that the overall risk to Americans is low, though authorities are monitoring possible cases in nearly 30 states. 

"I won't hesitate at all to invoke any authorities I need to, to ensure we're taking all steps to protect the American people, but I'll do it when it's appropriate," Azar said.

Azar noted that there are still only five confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, with no person-to-person transmission. That means that every person with a confirmed case has traveled to Wuhan, China, where the outbreak originated.

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"This is potentially a very serious public health threat, but at this time Americans should not worry about their own safety," Azar said. 

Still, officials said they expect more cases to be confirmed in the U.S. in the coming days. 

What else is happening: Increased airport screenings. There will be screenings at 20 airports, up from the current five, even though there are no more flights coming from Wuhan. 

Azar said all options are on the table to protect Americans, including travel restrictions. However, he noted that diseases "are not terribly good at respecting borders."

Read more here.

 

 

GOP senator calls for travel ban to stop coronavirus spread

Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonHouse Freedom Caucus chairman endorses Collins's Georgia Senate bid Sunday shows preview: 2020 Democrats jockey for top spot ahead of Nevada caucuses Senate votes to rein in Trump's power to attack Iran MORE (R-Ark.) is calling for the Trump administration to implement a "targeted travel ban" to stop the spread of a coronavirus from China.

In a letter to members of President TrumpDonald John TrumpAdvisor: Sanders could beat Trump in Texas Bloomberg rips Sanders over Castro comments What coronavirus teaches us for preventing the next big bio threat MORE's Cabinet on Tuesday, Cotton said it may be too late for China to contain the virus within its borders, and called for a ban on all commercial flights between the U.S. and China.

In order to blunt the inevitable impact to the U.S. economy, Cotton said officials should develop criteria to allow "critical trade" to continue, like cargo flights and seaboard shipping.

Cotton sent the letter to Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPresident Trump's assault on checks and balances: Five acts in four weeks The problem with Trump's Middle East peace plan India rolls out the red carpet for Trump MORE, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad WolfChad WolfSanders says he was briefed on Russian effort to help campaign Trump dismisses reports of Russian meddling, labels them Democratic 'misinformation campaign' Hillicon Valley: Barr threatens tech's prized legal shield | House panel seeks information from Amazon's Ring | Trump DOJ backs Oracle in Supreme Court fight against Google | TikTok unveils new safety controls MORE.

Will it happen? U.S. health officials have appeared reluctant to commit to any travel ban, and experts have expressed doubts about a ban's effectiveness at stopping the spread of disease.

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Flight cancellations: Meanwhile, United Airlines said it was suspending some flights to mainland China beginning Feb. 1 and lasting through Feb. 8 because of a "significant decline in demand." 

Read more here.

 

Warren releases plan for preventing, containing infectious diseases

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a 2020 White House hopeful, vowed on Tuesday to increase funding for public health programs in response to the coronavirus in China. 

Warren's plan would fully fund the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its pandemic prevention and response programs. 

She would also increase funding for grants that help state and local health departments prepare for outbreaks and other public health issues. 

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Her announcement comes as more than 4,500 cases have been confirmed in China, and five people have tested positive for the illness in the U.S. The CDC is also monitoring 73 possible cases. 

Experts note that public health funding has been lagging for years, putting the U.S. at risk for an epidemic. 

"Diseases like Ebola virus, Zika virus and most recently, coronavirus demonstrate the real threat that outbreaks pose to our health and security," Warren's campaign wrote in her plan. 

Read more here

 

And in non-coronavirus news...

 

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Twenty attorneys general file amicus brief against Missouri abortion restrictions

Twenty Democratic state attorneys general on Tuesday joined a multistate amicus brief in a challenge to abortion restrictions in Missouri.

"Nearly 50 years ago, the courts ruled that women across the country have the right to control their own bodies, but nearly every day since, anti-choice legislators have tried to impose their personal beliefs on the wills of millions of women nationwide," New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement.

Flashback: The state's sole remaining abortion provider, Planned Parenthood of St. Louis and its chief medical officer, Dr. Colleen McNicholas, have filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn two laws that restrict abortion in the state: a "reason ban" that prohibits pre-viability abortion if a doctor knows it is "solely because" of a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis, and various bans based on different gestational ages ranging from eight to 20 weeks

Read more here.

 

 

What we're reading

It's the insulin, stupid: How drug pricing's simplest case study became a top issue for 2020 Democrats (Stat News)  

In the UK's health system, rationing isn't a dirty word (Vox.com)

Response to nation's 1st coronavirus case draws on lessons from measles outbreak (Kaiser Health News)

Super Bowl means 'Avocado Hand' is back--with a vengeance (The Wall Street Journal)

 

State by state

An attack ad that claims Democratic Michigan Sen. Gary PetersGary Charles PetersState officials press Congress for more resources to fight cyberattacks Bipartisan lawmakers introduce bill to combat cyberattacks on state and local governments Senate drama surrounding Trump trial starts to fizzle MORE supports 'Medicare For All' doesn't hold up (Kaiser Health News)

Trump administration to offer states Medicaid block grant option (The Washington Post

Swedish medical center health-care workers begin three-day strike (Seattle Times

 

The Hill op-eds

China's biological 'Chernobyl': Different country, same lies