HHS chief: It would take a 'real change' in the risk from virus to close southern border

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar said Sunday that there would need to be a “real change” in the coronavirus risk from Mexico to close the southern border.

Azar during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday” responded to President TrumpDonald TrumpJudge rules Alaska governor unlawfully fired lawyer who criticized Trump Giuliani led fake electors plot: CNN Giuliani associate sentenced to a year in prison in campaign finance case MORE’s Saturday announcement that the administration is “strongly” considering closing the southern border in an effort to prevent the virus from spreading.

Azar said on Sunday that Mexico's four confirmed cases do not warrant any action to close the border at this point.


“So that would take a real change in the epidemiological profile and the risk to the United States from there,” he said. 

“I think what he was trying to say is all things are on the table,” he added. “We're not going to take anything off the table in our armamentarium of tools we have to protect the American people.”

The secretary added that other travel bans could be put in place, like the one barring foreign nationals who have visited China from entering the U.S.

He added that South Korea and Italy have good health-care systems, so the U.S. has only issued travel advisories for those nations for now. 

“The point is with Italy and South Korea we have highly developed public health and health-care systems, we have transparent leadership, and very aggressive action that's been on it from day one,” he said.

“So at this point we think advising people not to go is the right measure but everything will always be on the table,” he added. 

Trump has also expanded a ban on travel from Iran, which has seen the most deaths outside of China, where the virus is suspected to have originated.