Transcript: Coronavirus Task Force Holds Press Conference on Efforts to Contain Virus
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Task force aims to do two things. We want to provide you with an update on the novel coronavirus, and we want to provide the latest on the extensive aggressive actions that the president has taken to keep Americans safe and respond to the outbreak. Following my remarks, you'll hear from Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Tony Foushee, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Deputy Secretary of State.

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Steven Biggin, acting deputy secretary of Homeland Security. Ken Cuccinelli and Assistant Secretary of Transportation. Joel's about. We're also joined by HHS is Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. Robert Catholic. First, we want to send our sympathies to everyone in the United States, in China and elsewhere in the world who have been sickened by the virus or seen loved ones fall ill. I want to emphasize how grateful we are to those responding to the outbreak in China and around the world.

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As I said last week, we are working as quickly as possible on the many unanswered questions about this virus. That includes exactly how it spreads, how deadly it is, whether it's commonly transmitted by patients who are not yet displaying symptoms and other issues. They have now been 12 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus here in the United States, including two cases of transmission to people who had not recently been in China. Right now, our scientists and public health experts are trying to learn more about the virus using the data we have from China and the cases we have in the very near future.

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We hope they will be able to work with their Chinese counterparts and other international experts on the ground in China, even as we endeavor to answer these important questions. Our assessment of the immediate risk to the American public from the virus remains the same as last week, although the virus represents a potentially very serious public health threat and we expect to continue seeing more cases here. The immediate risk to the American public is low at this time. Now, as we've said, our top priority is keeping the risk to the American public low.

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And we're working on all fronts to do that. The President takes his responsibility to the health and safety of the American people extremely seriously. The State Department, HHS and other agencies have been working to help Americans repatriate from Suhan if they so desire here at home. State and local public health departments are working with the CDC to follow the playbook for an infectious disease response. Identify, diagnose, isolate, treat, contact, trace. This week, the FDA issued an emergency use authorization for the CDC diagnostic test.

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The CDC says test kits are now available for order from the international reagent resource for qualified laboratories, including U.S. state and local public health laboratories. Department of Defense laboratories and select international laboratories. All told, one hundred and ninety one international laboratories. Since last week, we've notified health care providers that those billing Medicare and Medicaid are expected to follow CDC guidelines for infection control related to the novel coronavirus. Our Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, has expanded its work with a pharmaceutical company around a candidate therapeutic comfort therapeutic for the coronavirus.

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While research on such countermeasures continues at NIH and elsewhere in the private sector, our longstanding offer to send World-Class experts to China to assist remains on the table. And this week, the State Department helped deliver seventeen point eight tons of relief supplies to Hubei Province, the epicenter of the outbreak. Meanwhile, we are working on the ground in countries around the world, as we always do in Africa, Asia and elsewhere, to assist them with the detection and prevention through CDC offices, State Department personnel and partnerships we've built through years and years of preparedness work.

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The FDA is actively working to accelerate the development and availability of countermeasures and to assess the risks that the outbreak could present to the American medical supply chains that involve China. Finally, we've been implementing the prudent policies the president announced last week to reduce the risk of transmission by travelers. We've implemented temporary quarantines of U.S. persons who have recently been to Hubei Province, and we've asked for voluntary self-monitoring quarantines for U.S. persons who have recently been elsewhere in mainland China. We've required that all other individuals who have recently been to mainland China wait 14 days.

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The outer limit of the incubation period of the virus before coming to the United States. These steps are a targeted approach aimed at slowing the virus's spread, too, and within the United States, giving our government and the global community more time to take preparedness measures. Understand the virus and develop medical countermeasures. These policies are consistent with those of many other governments. They are based on the current public health situation and they are in line with the accepted best practices and the international health regulations.

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The travel measures complement the generous help we're offering at home and around the world, and we believe they will help slow the spread of the virus.

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Every arm of the federal government that can help to protect the American people has been engaged. And we're continuing to take new steps, as Dr. Redfield will explain. We look forward to continuing to coordinate that work through the president's Corona Virus Task force. And I now want to hand things over to Dr. Redfield, who can provide a more in-depth update on the CDC work.

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Thank you, Redfield. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. First, I want to emphasize that while this is a serious health situation in China, the immediate risk of this virus to the American public remains low. And our goal is to keep it that way. As of today, there are more than 31000 cases across mainland China and the death toll has risen over 600 outside China. There's now over 300 cases that have been detected in 27 locations, including the United States.

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Most of these individuals have a connection to Hubei Province in China. An additional. Additionally, there are 14 locations with 69 cases of person to person transmission, an individuals that did not travel to China. From the onset, we have a layered response. And our goal is centered around early case recognition, isolation, contact tracing to prevent further spread of this novel coronavirus in our nation, using effective and proven public health measures. Our public health and medical community have been instrumental in identifying, characterizing the confirmed cases that we've had in the United States today and are critical to our efforts to contain the spread of this virus.

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Today, 12 confirmed cases has been then densify in the United States, and we've continued to do persistent contact tracing of those twelve cases and identified two additional cases that did not travel to China. But we're close spousal contacts of confirmed cases that had returned from move on. We have CDC now more than 800 responders working with in support of the U.S. government with our efforts at ports of entry, military installations and state health departments. Currently, China, China, currently CDC is working in coordination with the State Department as well as state partners to support the arrival of the new passengers, American citizens from WESUN.

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We are screening, monitoring, isolating and referring these individuals for medical treatment as needed. In addition, we appreciate our partnership with Customs and Border Protection to screen the Americans arriving in other parts of mainland China through the 11 U.S. airports. Since the airport screening began, CDC and our partners now have screened more than 17000 passengers. And as of today, we're screening roughly 4000 passengers today. We are grateful to these travelers for their cooperation and patients as we employ aggressive public health measures to confront this virus, strengthen our nation and protect America and Americans and their families.

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Today, the Department of Health and Human Service issued an interim final rule to amend foreign quarantine regulations. This will enable CDC to collect certain contact information data regarding airline passengers and crew when they arrive from other countries who may be exposed to communicable disease. This action is part of our mole.

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People CDC will work with the interagency partners and airlines to implement this initiative. Finally, we expect to see additional cases of this novel coronavirus in the United States from returning passengers as well as through contract racing to detect human to human transmission within our country of close contacts. I want to emphasize again that this is a serious global public health situation and it continues to evolve rapidly. It's understandable that Americans are concerned, but again, the immediate risk to the American public is low and we are vigilant in our efforts to confront the challenges that this new virus presents.

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Thank you. Last time we had a briefing like this, I had mentioned to you that we were in the process of developing and implementing and testing a variety of countermeasures in the form of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. So I like to give you a very brief update on where we are. You heard from the CDC that on the basis of emergency use authorization, that their diagnostic tests, which they developed very rapidly in the beginning, has now been distributed to health clinics, state and other local health clinics throughout the country.

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So that that diagnostic will be available not only in the CDC. At the same time, simultaneously, we, together with the CDC, are working on point of care diagnostics. And in particular, one that would be important would be develop antibody tests so that you could do broad serial surveillance screening, which I think would be important to determine the scope of the outbreak. Next is therapeutics. I had mentioned last time that at least two known therapeutics were being used in an empiric way.

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Well, I'm happy to report now that one of those RAM decibel, which had showed some activity in vitro and an animal model has now begun in a randomized controlled trial of two separate trials in China by one of our colleagues being KHOW, who we have collaborated with in the past. And what they're looking at in a randomized controlled trial is the effect of this drug is either the drug plus standard of care versus standard of care alone. The reason I think this is important because in order to really understand what works and what does not work, you have to do a kind of trial that would give you a definitive answers.

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So I think pretty soon we are going to get a definitive answer whether one of these among several drugs works. And then finally, I had mentioned to you that a number of organizations, pharmaceutical companies, individual investigators, were involved in developing a vaccine or vaccine.

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Was the messenger RNA a platform that I told this group would hopefully and I think likely be ready within three months? Well, a little time has passed and I said that would happen provided there were no glitches. And I'm happy to tell you that there have been no glitches so far. So what do we mean by that? There are a number of steps that you have to go through. One of the first steps is to successfully get that gene that has been published by the Chinese in the database and inserted into the messenger RNA platform successfully and allow it to express proteins.

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We've succeeded in that. The next is to put it in a mouse animal model to induce immunogenicity in the next to get the company to start making GMP products. And in fact, all of those have now been successfully and implemented and now there have been no thus far glitches. And I think there will likely not be. But you never know if that occurs. We will be in people in a Phase 1 trial within the next two and a half months.

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Thank you.

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Mm hmm. Thank you and good afternoon. Since taking office, President Trump has been clear that his top priority is the safety and well-being of the American people. And as Secretary Azar has said, it is that in that conviction that he took swift and decisive action to minimize. On this task force. While our colleagues from the Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC continue to do a tremendous job leading the overall response to the outbreak, the Department of State has responsibility for ensuring the safety and welfare of U.S.

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citizens abroad. The Department of State has all hands on deck with bureaus and offices from across the department, such as medical services, consular affairs, East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Crisis Management and Strategy, and many others covering health, economic and public affairs. Leading an exceptional effort to evacuate U.S. citizens from Wuhan, China, while continuing our important work to support U.S. citizens elsewhere in China and around the world. Thanks to these efforts, we've evacuated more than 800 people from Wuhan, the first charter flight to.

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The State Department, working closely with our partners in China, has loaded the hold of those arriving 747 7s with 18 tons of privately donated medical supplies and humanitarian assistance for the Chinese people. This includes urgently needed masks, gowns, gauze, respirators and other vital materials. These donations are a testament of the generosity of the American people. The novel Corona virus outbreak that began in China has now spread to 27 other countries. And today, at the direction of the secretary of state, I am pleased to announce the United States government is prepared to spend up to one hundred million dollars in existing funds to assist China and other impacted countries, as well as the World Health Organization to contain and combat the novel coronavirus.

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This commitment, along with the generous donations from the American private sector and faith based groups, signals strong U.S. leadership in response to the outbreak. The United States Agency for International Development has done a tremendous job in this area and continues to assist more than twenty five countries to build their health security programs. Since 2009, USAID has invested over 1 billion dollars to strengthen the capacity of these countries to prevent, detect and respond to existing and emerging infectious disease threats since 2015.

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The U.S. has also invested over 1 billion dollars under our commitment to the global health security agenda. This support has helped improve surveillance and laboratory systems, risk communication, outbreak response and to address the rising threat of anti-microbial resistance. All in preparation for a day like this, the United States is and will remain the world's most generous donor. We will continue to carry out the important work of strengthening the global health security and combating threats such as the novel coronavirus.

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Thank you. Good afternoon. Deputy Secretary, Acting Deputy Secretary for Department of Homeland Security, I'm that DHS is representative on the president's corona virus task force led by secretaries are going to tell you a little bit about what our professionals are doing to implement the layered system that you heard Dr. Redfield reference. And we're doing this first and foremost at our international ports of entry, whether they be air, sea or land. As of last Sunday, all flights from China and passengers who had been to China in the two preceding weeks are traveling to eleven airports in the United States.

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These are the airports where all those individuals are being funneled. And the first, the primary layer is the UFO folks. You see when you travel internationally. These are customs, Border Protection folks who say, can I see your passport? They are also asking some other questions about recent travel. Then you will go to a second. At level, you'll be asked a series of medical questions by trained medical professionals.

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And for those who have any of the flags, whether they have been to the Hubei Province, whether they are showing symptoms of illness, they will go to the tertiary level of screening, which is run by the CDC themselves, where they connect up with local and state authorities, health authorities to cooperatively manage those cases. That's what you see coming into those airports at sea. The Coast Guard is in charge of every port of entry for each ship that comes to the United States, whether they be passenger or cargo.

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And the cargo ships are continuing to process the economy. And the supply chain is trying to be continued in its vitality through the efforts of the Coast Guard and also Customs Border Protection that continues apace at our land ports of entry. We are also doing additional screening questions for travelers who come to the United States to determine whether they've been in China in the previous two weeks. And if that is the case, we use a longstanding practice of phone contact between those office of field office representatives and the CDC.

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That is how we conducted business before this virus ever showed up. We have always been looking for people who show up at our border with signs of illness. And we have always contacted the CDC for consultation. In those instances, this virus situation has merely brought it to other people's attention. But this is a long practiced exercise between CDC and CBP, and it is working quite well, as you heard earlier. The partnerships are working, whether they be at the federal level with our local partners or whether they be across the entire inner agency of the United States government will continue to do that, consistent with President Trump's charge to lean forward, to be on the front edge of keeping the people of this country safe from this threat and any other threats that we work on in the Department of Homeland Security every day.

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But right now, our focus today at this press conference is on the novel Corona virus and all the steps that are being taken by CBP, by the Coast Guard and within the Department of Homeland Security. They're being supported by our S.W.A.T., countering weapons of mass destruction, where our chief medical officer resides and our biological capacity, as well as FEMA, as their backup to work with Dr. Catholic here frequently. And so there's a deep engagement across the U.S. government to keep the American people safe.

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We're proud to do that so far. We're happy to see we're keeping that risk low, as the medical professionals attest to. And we're going to keep doing that for you all and for the benefit of the United States. Thank you.

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Secularism. I'm Joel's about assistant secretary for aviation international affairs at the department, Transportation Secretary Charles. Designated representative to the task force since the President's executive order went into effect on Sunday. We've established an international first aware to screen travelers who had recently been in China. This involves over a thousand daily flights inbound to United States being carried on over 400 air carriers from 288 airports worldwide. Over 200 thousand Americans are in or have recently left China. Returning American nationals can come home, are now coming home from anywhere in the world to any one of 11 designated airports for health screening.

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As part of the layered approach to health screening, we are working with the aviation community so that our medical professionals will have a central contact information for all arriving passengers. We also now have health protocols in place to protect the crews of passenger and cargo aircraft that are continuing to fly between that states and China.

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Mr. Secretary, we thank you very much.

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So at this point, we'd be happy to turn it over for some questions. I just want express my appreciation to fellow members of the task force from across the interagency and the NSC, OMB, and also especially to Secretary espero at the Department of Defense, who's just been providing such incredible help and assistance to us. How about if we go right there to help? If you could just wait till the microphone in the in the brown blouse, little extra back.

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Thank you.

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Being ealey from Politico. Thank you for taking my question and secretary, is are you notified Congress earlier this week that you may use your authority to transfer funds over to the coronavirus response efforts? I'm wondering if you do plan to do that in the near future and if not, do you plan to ask? Request new funding from Congress?

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So what I did with the transfer request under the law, I have the ability to make transfers among accounts within our appropriation. But it requires 15 days advance notice to Congress, to the appropriators in the interests of just precautionary principle. I sent a notice up as soon as possible to the appropriators, letting them know that we might tap into the hundred and thirty six million dollars of transfer authority there. No decision has been made to need to tap into that at the moment.

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We're operating on $105 million on the Infectious Disease Rapid Response Fund and CDC that we initiated a week ago Saturday, I believe on my declaration of a threat to the United States. It's premature to be talking about any additional needs for money at this point. We're still there's still so many unknowns about the situation. We've got 12 cases in the United States. Two of them are already out of out of treatment, even from the measures that we initiated. We spoke about last last week in terms of travel restrictions, we have 12 individuals who are in in quarantine as a result of those measures.

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So at this point, it's really it's really very premature to talk about needs for additional money. We won't let resources be any kind of barrier to the response activities here. But let's not put the cart before the horse. Thank you.

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Back in the. Yes, back there. And white. A small number in. And what exactly elaborating what you're off short me. Sure.

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So as I think I mentioned to you in a previous conference, I spoke with Minister Moore, who is my counterpart in the Chinese government, the minister of health in China. A week ago Monday, with our to reiterate the offer that Director Redfield had made on January 6th. Of our willingness to send teams over to of expert teams to help the Chinese both with their response, as well as to learn more about the nature of this virus, reiterated that offer.

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And then the following day, Director General Tedros met with President JI and secured his his agreement that he was open to a World Health Organization team coming over. Then we provided 13 of the 25 names that the World Health Organization provided to China are actually CDC, NIH and BARDA individuals, experts who could assist that W.H.O. team. These are virologist drug development experts, epidemiologists who would be part of that team. And we continue to expect fully that President President Xi will accept that team that the W.H.O.

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has put together as an expert team. We're ready, willing and able, and we'd like to get on with the work as quickly as possible. Thank you. Yes, in the green Besser. And flirty with ABC News. How confident are you in the information that China is providing you? On case numbers? And also, what message would you provide to Americans who might be looking to get on a cruise ship or they're wondering if they should send their kids to school with math?

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Anything outside of the usual hand-washing recommendation?

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Sure. Thank you for that question. Let me ask Dr. Redfield, if you would mind giving his expert advice there, starting with the last part.

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Now, we obviously at this stage, we don't recommend mass, OK? The risk to the American people is low. As I mentioned, unless you recently have been in the Hubei province, and when you do get respiratory symptoms that may be flu-like, it's much more probable that in fact, it's flu. We would actually recommend that hand-washing. We eckermann that when you cough cough into your elbow, we recommend that you don't touch your face a lot and that you wash your hands frequently.

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That's what we recommend for flu at this stage. That's what we recommend because the real threat to the American public right now is flu.

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And we also recommend if you haven't got the flu vaccine, get the flu vaccine related to the data we have with both Dr. Foushee and I have regular contact with our counterpart in China, who we have a very good communication sharing information. I think the challenge is understanding more right now the spectrum of this illness. It does appear that you can actually have this infection and not have symptoms. Member China's looking at cases that were sick enough to go into a hospital and have to be admitted.

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There's been very little broader look at the spectrum of this to see how many people were truly infected. And it also is very clear that individuals that don't have symptoms can, in fact, transmit the virus. And so that's where we're at right now. But I think the information we're getting from China, CDC, I think we have a lot of confidence. And it's just that we don't think the full extent of this outbreak has been defined through the spectrum of asymptomatic, symptomatic disease.

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Do you have any views or Secretary Cuccinelli perhaps on the cruise ship question that was asking?

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You know, it's it's complicated because these cruise ships, you're really dependent on the place of origin of your passenger. Crew, passengers. She's going to see their street cruise ships now and in the press and then we can talk about it more where there has been individuals from a high risk area to get on that cruise ship. And then obviously there's been significant transmission in the particuarly in the case in Japan right now, where now there's been significant cases of the individuals that are there.

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So I think, you know, it's really a time to be prudent if you're going on a cruise ship and, you know, in in the Caribbean, which attracts mostly individuals from South America and the United States, it's really no risk if you're going on a cruise ship where you may have a number of the passengers, as we saw with the cruise ship in Japan, that happened to just come out of China where this virus happens to be transmitted.

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Then there's risk. So I guess it's gonna be a judgment call as you make that for you and your family. In the brown blazer here finishes. Yo yo from Hong Kong, Phoenix TV. I have a question about. There are a lot of Chinese students coming back after a winter break before the trade restrictions are done. Travel restrictions. So what recommendations did you give to schools who are a lot of Chinese students? Also, there are like incidents that in the US are in New York City and also abroad about people have very negative views about people who have been to China or Chinese.

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Can you clarify, is this Veras more Asians, more vulnerable to this disease? All the cases in the U.S. now Asians.

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Thank you very much. Let me up and ask Dr. Redfield and Dr. Foushee if they could address those as they're very much. Thank you. One of the most important things we've tried to do, as I said, this is a layered approach. And actually, the most important layer that we found for early identification is the health notices we put out to medical doctors and the medical health community. Of the 12 cases that we confirmed, 11 of them, whereas a constant one, nine of them actually came as a consequence of physicians recognizing it or educated individual citizens saying, listen, I got sickened.

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By the way, I just have come back from the Bay Area. Two of them were diagnosed because of the aggressive contact tracing that we're doing here in the United States with the state and local territorial groups along with ourselves. We have reached out then with broader information to the public and include targeted education to heads of schools to really try to reach out with that same educational message to Asian students that may have recently returned from New Years, for example, from from the Hubei area.

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Again, making them alert of the early symptoms. Don't just shrug your shoulders and say, I just think I have a cold. If you just came back from Hubei, you need to be medically evaluated, obviously, with that medical community, which has been very vigilant. Well, let Dr. Foushee answer the second question.

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Thank you. Well, since most of the cases are in China, obviously no one has done a study. But if you look at the history of these kinds of respiratory viruses, there is really no indication that Chinese are more susceptible or vulnerable than anyone else. So I would think that that's something you shouldn't be concerned about. Thank you. The gentleman in the blue blazer, Dan Vergano with BuzzFeed News. I'm wondering what the task force outlook is on the trajectory of this outbreak.

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Is containment still possible at this point, or are we just doing things to buy time for a pandemic? And does that matter? Do your actions change? Either way, you're looking at this.

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Well, if you don't mind.

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Yeah, I think that's a really important question. Obviously, in China, they're in mitigation stages. Okay. You know, we're really there really now beyond containment. You know, the virus right now is not under control in China, in the United States. I think the multi-layer system that we've put out is still got us in a mode of containment. They're not mutually exclusive containment mitigation. I can tell you where we're actively beginning to think about, you know, what other steps we would take if there was broader cases occurring in the United States.

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But I do think right at this stage, we're still in a containment phase. And the extraordinary efforts that we put out, I think most people know we haven't instituted federal quarantine and over 50 years that I think the containment strategy we have with the continued cooperation of the American public that have recently turned to China to get in touch with their health department and the aggressive Layard screening that we're currently doing with the funneled airports. I think we're in a still in that place.

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It doesn't mean that a two weeks from now or four weeks from now, we need we won't need to begin looking at some mitigation strategies.

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Thank you. In the red Blauser right there. Thank you.

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Hi. Are local and state health departments that are assisting in this response getting any funding assistance from the CDC? Or are they relying on their own resources? And how might this impact their own public health issues they might be dealing with like the flu or measles in their community?

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Yeah, well, thank you for that. The local and state officials are, of course, vital partners in this. The federal government works together with our local partners, our state partners. I think approximately 50 percent of the budget of local and state public health departments are is actually funded by the CDC. And in fact, we have a fund about $670 million a year goes out to states, particularly for emergency preparedness and emergency response work like this to be ready to be ready for that.

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So we already have significant funding to the state and local governments, to their public health departments to build capacity for this for the types of activities. There is additional work here, laboratory response work. There are for certain jurisdictions preparedness on potential quarantining, especially with the eleven airport ports of entry. As a preparedness week, as I said, only had twelve individuals who've been subject to that so far. And we'll certainly want to work with state and local governments to find if there is additional money needed from CDC grant funding.

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We'll certainly work to work to try to be fair and find available sources for them. But at the moment, we certainly have funded tremendous capacity for exactly this type of activity through over a decade of the pandemic flu preparedness activities and emergency preparedness work.

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Dr. Redlener, anything different you want to add? No, I think, Mr. Secretary, that was right on. I disagree. Just to emphasize that we're currently a very it's a fluid situation. We're currently evaluating what the resource requirements are. And as the secretary said, we're not going to get resource requirements get in the way of response. But it's really, I think, premature for us to say this is exactly what needs to be done. But we are working in partnership with state and local health departments to help to find them.

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Yes. In the blue shirt. Thank you. I'm sorry.

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Zoglin Kino Young's from The New York Times. I just want to follow up on the question regarding American experts going to China. Is it then accurate that China has not extended that invitation yet? And can you elaborate? Do you have any indication on why they haven't extended that invitation? And one final one. Just do you think that if American experts had gotten on the ground earlier at this point, that this mitigation, that this controlling, this containing this virus, that it would be more efficient at this point?

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I'll I'll discuss the first and then I'll ask Dr. Redfield to discuss the second, since it's that it would be largely his people and his interactions with his counterpart at the Chinese CDC. So at this point, it's really it's a decision for the Chinese. We have we have made the request now for almost a month to say we are ready, willing and able. We are here to support the Chinese government to help China with their response. But primarily our activities would be to learn more about the nature of this virus with our expertise.

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You know, we've played a very important role. We have a we have a decades long working collaboration with Chinese public health. I mean, it's not an accident. It's called the Chinese CDC. We have really. Worked productively for decades together. We have CDC staff who are permanently based over in Beijing as part of our health attaché mission there. So these are very deep, longstanding connections. So what we would do is be able to really help add expertise to be able to get to those questions we talked about at our first meeting in this room, some of the uncertainties.

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Can we do line tracing to get a better handle on what the what what the incubation period is that's being experienced, what the severity index is on these cases, what the real risk of asymptomatic transmission is, those types of questions. We believe we can add significant expertise to help with. But of course, this is a matter for the Chinese leadership to make the final decision. But we we feel very optimistic that this will happen. They have their own processes as we do, to make decisions on accepting that kind of assistance, and we have to defer to them in respect of that process.

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I would say in your first question, one thing, I think we should all be humble about it. You can't predict these infectious disease outbreaks, so I can't make a prediction. What I can say in infectious disease outbreaks. Time matters. You know, a lot of time in humanitarian crises, you can grow to a point where then you'd necessitate intervention in infectious disease. You kind of want to get in there, preferably before they start. But at least when they do start, once they get to such a critical mass, then it's very hard for the tried and true approaches of public health to make that impact.

[00:39:40.02]
So I can't predict. I can say, though, we're on a close watch around the world to see is there another country that starts to get what we call sustained human to human transmission? We're gonna see isolated cases all around the world. We've seen over 300 of them now. All right. But what we're and maybe occasionally a human to human transmission. But what you're really looking for is when you get a sustained human to human community based transmission and obviously being on the lookout for that occurs and then tried to get the collective effort of the world's public health community to try to prevent a second China right now as we try to work to help China contain their outbreak that they currently have.

[00:40:22.07]
So just to underscore what Bob said. But I think and also an answer to the question that the gentleman from BuzzFeed asked about, where is this epidemic going to go? The issue is we don't know. And any kind of prediction, I think would be ill advised because we really have so many unknowns. But there are several possible scenarios. I mean, the best scenario would be that the Chinese successfully contain and we see a turnaround of the curve. We see no more seeding in the international areas and we don't see the sustained transmission in those parts of China excuse me, those parts of the world that have travel related cases, that would really be the best scenario.

[00:41:09.08]
The thing that could happen that we don't know and that's the reason why we don't predict is that, A, they don't control that very well or they do. But it gets seated in a country that doesn't have the resources to be able to do the kind of ID, contact tracing and isolation. And then you have again, this is a sustaining of the outbreak. All of these are possibilities. So what we're doing is that we are, as we always say, to become somewhat trite.

[00:41:37.00]
But it's the truth is that you really prepare for the worst possible scenario and then hopefully that will see the one that does bring an end to this.

[00:41:48.00]
And the jacket here. Yes. And don't show it, the voice of America following off to a doctor, far to what he just said. Earlier this week, the W.H.O. said that we're not yet in a global pandemic, but this is an epidemic in multiple locations. I want to hear your take on whether we're heading quickly towards a global pandemic. And also, W.H.O. is against travel restrictions. And many medical health experts say that travel restrictions won't stop virus from coming in.

[00:42:19.08]
So what were the considerations in coming up with the travel restrictions? And do you think those travel restrictions are effective in stopping virus from coming in? I'll I'll address.

[00:42:28.09]
Your second question that I'll turn it to Dr. Foushee. So the travel restrictions that we put in place in consultation with the president were very measured and incremental. These were the uniform recommendation of the career public health officials here at HHS. These are people who have been like Dr. Foushee, Dr. Redfield, Nancy Messineo A Marty Cetron, individuals who have been doing this work for decades and decades in their career. And this was their considered recommendation which I and the President adopted.

[00:43:02.03]
These are steps really meant to slow down the spread. It's not meant to hermetically sealed the United States from the virus, but rather to allow us to focus our resources. It is precisely these measures that have allowed us to provide such support to the State Department's efforts on repatriating Americans because of the considerable effort and activity to do 14 day quarantine procedures on those individual Americans that we're bringing back, that it's so it's about focusing resources. It's about slowing spread.

[00:43:33.06]
As we learn more, we develop countermeasures and we also hopefully see a change in the disease, the epi curve profile in China as China takes their very extreme measures to try to contain this within Hubei and within China itself.

[00:43:50.03]
So then dark it just to extend the bit with the secretary mentioned. It is true. I mean, health officials, myself included, have said in the past that travel restrictions are not going to stop completely. When you have an outbreak, that is a true pandemic. But I think most health officials agree that at best it delays and as the secretary says, kind of pauses things. And that's really the reason and the underlying rationale why that was done.

[00:44:22.02]
I mean, if there is and I hope it doesn't happen, a broad pandemic throughout the world. Travel restrictions are not going to help. You can't just travel, restrict everyone. But I think many public health officials would agree that although it's not perfect, that it will stop, it could delay. And what we needed was a delay to essentially prepare better, but also to get a better feel of where this is going. The negative collateral, negative components, people say, is you incite panic in a country or you have difficulties with resources getting in and out.

[00:44:55.09]
Thus far, there's been no panic in the country and there has been no inhibition of the kind of resources that we need. So the kinds of collateral damage that you're concerned about have not occurred. This is a temporary thing. We're not talking about something that's permanent. So we recognize the potential negatives of it. But this decision was not made lightly, was made after much consideration of examining all of the aspects. I mean, the gun in the center, please.

[00:45:28.00]
No, and this will be the last question places. Got it. We've got to run. But of course, our public affairs office is available for questions for you at all times. Thank you.

[00:45:36.03]
Thanks for taking my question. Brianna Aley from Politico. And the U.S. relies on a lot of medical products from China. Are there any facilities that you know of in the region that have had to stop production because of the outbreak? And what is the expected impact on U.S. supply? Great.

[00:45:50.04]
Thank you. Good question. In fact, we have our commissioner of food and drugs here, Dr. Stephen Horn. Dr. Horn, you and Dr. Kadlec have been involved in communicating with American suppliers.

[00:46:04.01]
Drugs, devices, generics. Could you please address that question about the supply chain?

[00:46:09.04]
Sir. Dr. Hunt, you want to come up tonight?

[00:46:13.00]
Well, first of all, we're doing this as a team, not only across HHS, but across the entire agency. Today, we basically held two important meetings, the whole of government logistics council. I know that sounds a little dry, but it's really all the end of all the entities across the U.S. government that have equities in terms of supply activities, particularly health care supplies as it relates to their respective activities. Veterans Administration, Department of Defense, Indian Health Affairs, whole bunch.

[00:46:39.08]
And the second one is, is basically looking at the utilization of respiratory protection, protective protective equipment. So we're doing is both both not only monitoring the supply and the sourcing of that supply, but also the use. And I'll give you one quick example. We're very sensitive to the supplies of personal protective equipment such as masks. There's a great question earlier. And the thing is, is if you use them now, you won't have them later if you need them.

[00:47:03.08]
And so I think it's very important to level set across the government and for the public to understand that. And CDC has been vital partner in this to basically evaluate not only how do we use these products, but how we can potentially reuse and again, extend their use. So there's been a lot of activity in this area. And I'll defer to Dr. Hahn to explain his agency's activities. Thank you.

[00:47:26.07]
FDA is closely monitoring the situation. We're working with our government collaborators as well as manufacturers to monitor what's going on in the supply chain. At this moment, we have received no reports from manufacturers about disruptions to the medical product supply chain. Obviously, the situation is fluid and we'll do everything we can to continue to monitor this and act accordingly.

[00:47:50.06]
Thank you, Dr. Hahn, and thank you all very much. And again, we want to work to periodically want to make sure you have access to the principles on the task force. We've, of course, got the daily press briefings that we're doing out of HHS, congressional briefings, state and local public health briefings. We really want to have just radical transparency on these issues. I speak, I think, for each of our departments to say our press shops are available to those who have questions and we'll try to convene just as as the rhythm and development of this situation progresses.

[00:48:18.08]
So you have access to us directly, but also, please know you have access to our expert teams so we can get you the answers will get you what we know when we know it. And also tell you the uncertainties that we're facing as we face uncertainties. So thank you very much for being here today. And thanks to my colleagues.