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Feinstein Asks HHS for Coronavirus Screening, Quarantine Plans

            Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar asking what is being done to ensure there are adequate resources to carry out the screening and quarantining of travelers due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

            Senator Feinstein wrote, “Given that there is an increasing number of reports of person-to-person spread as well as the growing belief the virus can spread before an infected individual shows any symptoms, I ask that you please answer these questions: 

  • What is being done to ensure there are adequate personnel and supplies at the designated quarantine facilities to oversee and monitor the health of the evacuees as well as security that complies with the quarantine requirements? 
  • Which department/agency is providing these personnel? 
  • How does the federal government plan to reimburse or share expenses with the states and local governments assisting with the evacuation?
  • What is being done to contact travelers who were screened prior to the mandatory 14-day quarantine policy being implemented?  Will screening practices at ports of entry be modified to also reflect this policy?”

Full text of the letter is available here and below.

February 5, 2020

The Honorable Alex M. Azar II
Secretary
Department of Health and Human Services
Washington, D.C. 20201

Dear Secretary Azar:

            I write to follow up on my letter dated January 15 regarding the deadly coronavirus and the steps your department is taking to ensure the United States is fully prepared for a larger outbreak. 

            As you know, more than 20,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed worldwide, with 11 cases in the United States – 6 of which have been reported in California.  While reported numbers suggest the virus’ fatality rate is relatively low, I understand that approximately one-quarter of patients with the disease require intensive care and that the actual number of cases is likely larger than the reported numbers. 

            In response to the possibility that the coronavirus is able to be transmitted by infected individuals showing no symptoms, evacuated Americans are now subject to a 14-day quarantine.  In addition to March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, Americans are now being evacuated from China to two separate facilities in California, as well as designated facilities in Texas and Colorado. 

            Given that there is an increasing number of reports of person-to-person spread as well as the growing belief the virus can spread before an infected individual shows any symptoms, I ask that you please answer these questions: 

  • What is being done to ensure there are adequate personnel and supplies at the designated quarantine facilities to oversee and monitor the health of the evacuees as well as security that complies with the quarantine requirements? 
  • Which department/agency is providing these personnel? 
  • How does the federal government plan to reimburse or share expenses with the states and local governments assisting with the evacuation?
  • What is being done to contact travelers who were screened prior to the mandatory 14-day quarantine policy being implemented?  Will screening practices at ports of entry be modified to also reflect this policy?

            Thank you for your attention to this issue, and I look forward to your response. 

Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

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