On Thursday, members of the U.S. House of Representatives met behind closed doors to receive a briefing from U.S. health officials about the spread of the coronavirus.
Presenters included Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases; and Robert Kadlec, assistant secretary within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, the chair of the subcommittee that oversees the CDC, requested the briefing.
“This is a dangerous virus but, as health officials told us today, it still remains largely contained to mainland China,” DeGette said afterward. “That said, if this does turn into some kind of pandemic situation here in the U.S. — which we hope it will not — I am concerned about the time it will take to develop a vaccine and get it distributed to the American public.”
Lawmakers reportedly learned that the CDC has sent government officials to China, where the outbreak is centered. There is no cure for the virus, and there is potential for a shortage of medical face masks, as most are manufactured in China.
As of Sunday night, at least 361 people have died due to the coronavirus. Colorado health officials have determined that there is a low risk to the public of infection from the respiratory illness. The most recent statistics on Jan. 29 showed there to be zero confirmed cases in the state.
In other news, Fort Carson was announced as one of four military facilities approved as possible quarantine sites by the Pentagon. Americans returning from Hubei province, the center of the outbreak, will be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine under an order signed Friday by President Donald Trump.
In a statement, Fort Carson said that any of the up to 250 people who would have to quarantined at the post during February would stay at the Colorado Army National Guard's Regional Training Institute of Excellence.
Fort Carson's statement said that soldiers and post personnel would not be in direct contact with those in quarantine. People in quarantine would also not have access to any other areas of the post other than their assigned housing, it said.