Mike Pompeo and Alex Azar: Our coronavirus response is protecting Americans
How we mobilize resources around the world to help other nations fight the disease is American altruism at its finest.
The first duty of the federal government is to keep our citizens safe. Since the United States first became aware on Dec. 30 of what has become known as the novel coronavirus, America’s public health officials have closely monitored the situation, worked to understand the virus and taken steps to limit Americans’ exposure to it.
Our task force is ensuring that our whole of government, layered, public health plan has the resources necessary to protect Americans. We’ve treated the sick, and traced back their travel history and contacts to minimize the spread of the virus. We’ve worked swiftly to screen and safely receive American travelers returning from China, and bar foreign travelers who have recently visited the epicenter of the outbreak.
Consistent with the World Health Organization International Health Regulations, our travel restrictions were intentionally devised to complement the Chinese government’s policy of isolating approximately 50 million of its own citizens in Hubei province. Other nations, such as Italy and South Korea, have taken similar measures.
Our efforts in China
Thus far, the United States has only had 13 confirmed cases of the virus. We were saddened to hear last week that one American, a 60-year-old woman in Wuhan, China, has died. But we’re undeterred in our vigilance to protect our people. And we’re mobilizing resources around the world to help other nations fight the disease, too. This is American altruism at its finest.
Let’s start with our efforts focused on the country where the virus first appeared — China. In the words of President Donald Trump, “We’re offering them tremendous help.” During the first week of January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made an offer of assistance in order to understand the disease and help bolster response efforts.
The Department of Health and Human Services subsequently provided to the WHO a list of world-class medical professionals ready to deploy their skills in China and learn from China’s efforts to combat this new coronavirus. In the last week of January, Secretary Azar personally extended an offer of help to Health Minister Ma Xiaowei; Secretary Pompeo did the same with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi. We hope the mission will commence immediately, whether bilaterally or under the auspices of the WHO.