All options, including a ban on travel from China to the
U.S., must be considered to prevent a spread of the novel coronavirus, Health
and Human Service secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday.
“It is important not to take anything off the table,” Azar
told reporters during a briefing in Washington, D.C. He added that federal
officials will be constantly assessing the situation as they learn more about
the epidemiology of the virus. But he also emphasized that the virus currently
does not pose a risk to the vast majority of Americans.
Thus far there have been more than 4,500 confirmed cases of
the coronavirus in China and more than 100 deaths. Only five cases have been
confirmed in the U.S., and each of those individuals had traveled from Wuhan,
where the virus originated.
As a further preventative measure, the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention will begin screening arriving passengers from China at
15 more airports, which will join screening operations already in place at
Chicago O’Hare, New York JFK, Atlanta, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Though
the agency didn’t provide the full list of airports, the operations will take
place at airports that already have regular quarantine stations, said National
Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease director Nancy Messonnier. The
CDC runs such stations at 20 airports and border crossings from Alaska to San
In a speech Monday, Vice President Mike Pence said the
expanded screening stations will cover 90% of flyers arriving to the U.S. from
The CDC on Monday updated travel guidance for China,
recommending that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to the entire country.