Watch: US health officials testify on coronavirus outbreak before House committee

  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar testifies before the House Subcommittee on Health on Tuesday about the coronavirus outbreak. 
  • Alongside Azar, other members of the White House coronavirus task force are also expected to testify.
  • The virus, named COVID-19, has shuttered commerce across much of China and hit company earnings, global stock markets and manufacturing across the world.

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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is testifying before the House Subcommittee on Health on Tuesday about the coronavirus outbreak. 

The hearing will center on the Trump administration’s proposed 2021 budget for HHS oversight of the coronavirus outbreak, which has now infected more than 81,000 people, mostly in China, and killed at least 2,764.

Alongside Azar, other members of the White House coronavirus task force are also expected to testify, including Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health Dr. Anthony Fauci. Commissioner of Food and Drugs Dr. Stephen Hahn and assistant secretary for Preparedness and Response Dr. Robert Kadlec are also scheduled to speak, as well as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Robert Redfield.

President Donald Trump announced Wednesday he will discuss the outbreak during a news conference at 6 p.m. ET with officials from the CDC.

The virus, named COVID-19, has shuttered commerce across much of China and hit company earnings, global stock markets and manufacturing across the world. The Trump administration last month declared the virus a public health emergency in the United States. The declaration came with travel restrictions and mandatory federal quarantine orders for Americans returning from the epicenter of the outbreak in China.

The White House reportedly asked Congress on Monday for $1.25 billion in additional funding to bolster its coronavirus response.

The CDC stepped up its call Tuesday for the public to start preparing for a possible pandemic outbreak in the U.S.

“We are asking the American public to work with us to prepare for the expectation that this could be bad,” a top CDC official told reporters in a conference call outlining what schools and businesses will likely need to do if the COVID-19 virus starts to spread throughout the U.S.

Also on Tuesday, the CDC confirmed Tuesday there are now 59 cases in the U.S., a majority of which are passengers repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined off the coast of Japan.

There are currently no proven therapies for the virus, and a vaccine will take at least a year to develop, health officials say.

Human trials for a potential vaccine are expected to begin in six weeks, U.S. health officials announced Tuesday.

“We are on time, at least, and maybe even a little bit better,” Fauci told reporters at a press conference. “Hopefully, no further glitches.”

In the past week, the virus has spread substantially beyond China. Localized outbreaks in places such as Italy and Iran are fueling concerns among infectious disease experts and scientists that the virus is spreading too quickly and may be past the point of containment. Health officials are warning the public to prepare for a potential global pandemic.

As the virus spreads, director-general of the WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is calling the international community to action before it’s too late.

“The window of opportunity is still there, but our window of opportunity is narrowing,” he said last week. “We need to act quickly before it closes completely.”

Read CNBC’s live updates to see the latest news on the COVID-19 outbreak.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/02/26/watch-us-health-officials-testify-on-coronavirus-before-house.html

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