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 GrishamOAN says it will attend briefing as White House guest after violating social distancing rules UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tests positive for coronavirus White House press secretary to return to work after negative virus test 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 TrumpPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor NBA to contribute 1 million surgical masks to NY essential workers Private equity firm with ties to Kushner asks Trump administration to relax rules on loan program: report 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 CottonTrump's ambitious infrastructure vision faces Senate GOP roadblock  GOP lawmaker touts bill prohibiting purchases of drugs made in China Wisconsin Republican says US must not rely on China for critical supplies 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.