Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) sent a letter Friday to the heads of four government agencies to ask whether the Trump administration was considering any potential Chinese travel ban to prevent an American outbreak of the coronavirus.
The senator tweeted Friday morning that “Public safety must be #1 priority.”
As deadly #coronavirus spreads, this morning I’ve written to the Secretary of State and others to ask whether temporary travel restrictions from affected areas in China may be necessary, and if they are, when American travelers will be notified. Public safety must be #1 priority
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) January 24, 2020
“I believe Americans deserve advance notice of your plans to evaluate more aggressive limitations on travel between the U.S. and China and of any additional considerations that might lead you to refrain from such measures,” Hawley wrote in the letter, which was sent to HHS secretary Alex Azar, Acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf, DOT secretary Elaine Chao, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The Center for Disease Control confirmed Tuesday that the coronavirus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, had reached the U.S., after a man in Washington state was diagnosed. On Friday, a woman in Chicago was also confirmed with the virus. Both individuals had recently traveled to Wuhan.
The virus, which, causes pneumonia-like symptoms, is related to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, a virus that originated in China and killed hundreds of people in 2002 and 2003.
On Thursday, China announced that it was quarantining the city of Wuhan in an attempt to slow the outbreak, which as of Thursday evening had infected 830 and killed 25 in China.
Hawley ends his letter with four requests, including what protocols the government plans to take on potential travel restrictions, whether it will inform the public of any decision “in the interests of transparency,” and how the U.S. can help China and the international community to contain the virus.