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Excerpts of Press Briefing by Members of the President’s Coronavirus Task Force
February 2, 2020

The White House LogoSECRETARY AZAR:  …

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In accordance with the declaration, beginning at 5:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time; Sunday, February the 2nd, the United States government will implement temporary measures to increase our abilities to detect and contain the coronavirus proactively and aggressively.  Any U.S. citizen returning to the United States who has been in Hubei Province in the previous 14 days will be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine to ensure they are provided proper medical care and health screening.

To be clear, this applies only to U.S. citizens who have been in Hubei Province in the past 14 days prior to their attempted entry into the United States.

Any U.S. citizen returning to the United States who has been in the rest of Mainland China within the previous 14 days will undergo proactive entry health screening at a select number of ports of entry and up to 14 days of monitored self-quarantine to ensure they’ve not contracted the virus and do not pose a public health risk.

Additionally, the President has signed a presidential proclamation, using his authority pursuant to Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, temporarily suspending the entry into the United States of foreign nationals who pose a risk of transmitting the 2019 novel coronavirus.

As a result, foreign nationals, other than immediate family of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, who have traveled in China within the last 14 days will be denied entry into the United States for this time.

Once again, these actions will become effective at 5:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time; Sunday, February 2nd.  These prudent, targeted, and temporary actions will decrease the pressure on public health officials screening incoming travelers, expedite the processing of U.S. citizens and permanent residents returning from China, and ensure resources are focused on the health and safety of the American people.

I want to stress: The risk of infection for Americans remains low.  And with these and our previous actions, we are working to keep the risk low.  All agencies are working aggressively to monitor this continually evolving situation and to keep the public informed in a constantly transparent way.

The United States appreciates China’s efforts and coordination with public health officials across the globe, and continues to encourage the highest levels of transparency.

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China has an excellent healthcare system, but, in parts of the country, it is simply overwhelmed and the accessibility to that healthcare for any reason — including potential infection, but also any other type of accident in need of medical care — may be compromised during the Chinese government’s own treatment of the consequences of this virus.

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Our second responsibility is to assist U.S. citizens in the affected areas as much as possible.  Because we have a presence on the ground, we can provide advice and, in some cases, we can make other arrangements.  But I want to emphasize this is “as possible,” and we will continue to review what we can do in certain circumstances.

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We will be implementing a funneling effort at the airports.  This is done under the authority of the Customs and Border Protection, and it will include seven airports.  So starting five o’clock on Sunday, Eastern Time, incoming flights from China will be funneled through seven airports.  Those airports are JFK, Chicago’s O’Hare, in San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, Honolulu, and LAX.

This is done under CBP’s authority.  It will be executed by the Secretary the Department of Homeland Security, consistent with the President’s proclamation and in support of that effort — again, so we can focus the expertise of the medical professionals that will do the screening to implement this.

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SECRETARY AZAR:  Thank you all very much.  And again, I just want to stress: First, the most important thing that we can be doing is what we are doing, which is offering to help the Chinese government and assist them in helping them to control the spread of the novel coronavirus in China — working with them as closely as possible, as well as with the World Health Organization.

Second, the risk to Americans is low.  You have a team here.  You have an experienced, first-class — the world’s best public healthcare system, infrastructure, and professionals looking out for you, making judgments like this, scaling them up, as appropriate, to work to keep this from becoming an issue that would be of concern for you — to keep that risk low.

So thank you all very much.