Containing the Coronavirus in the U.S.

The Department of Health and Human Services, led by Sec. Alex Azar, is on the front-lines of protecting Americans from the coronavirus.

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and other members of the Coronavirus Task Force address members of the press at a February 9 briefing about efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak.(photo: Sec. Alex Azar, Twitter)

The primary responsibly of any government is keeping its citizens safe.

For this reason, when news of the coronavirus broke in December, the Trump administration wasted no time in deploying the preparedness strategies and tactics long established by the U.S. scientific experts who deal with infectious diseases.

In addition to measures and plans already in place, President Trump moved immediately to create a Coronavirus Task Force. This collection of top public health officials from both the public and private sector immediately proved the efficacy of such a coalition:

After more than two-months, only 13 cases of the deadly virus have been confirmed in the United States.

The administration’s preemptive steps to restrict travel from certain areas of China known to be under particular threat of coronavirus no doubt proved critical in the early days. The U.S. would likely be facing far more cases of coronavirus than the dozen or so odd cases currently reported in the U.S. were it not for the quick and decisive action of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Spearheaded by HHS Sex. Alex Azar, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has organized efforts to contain the virus, both in the U.S. and around the world. Azar has also extended the hand of friendship to China during this viral outbreak.

Conveying deepest sympathies to the Chinese people and gratitude to the Chinese doctors and scientists fighting the disease in the China, Azar offered the help of U.S. scientists and doctors.

“The Department of Health and Human Services subsequently provided to the WHO a list of world-class medical professionals ready to deploy their skills in China and learn from China’s effort to combat this new coronavirus.”

“In the last week of January, Secretary Azar personally extended an offer of help to Health Minister Ma Xiawei; Secretary Pompeo did the same with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi. We hope the mission will commence immediately, whether bilaterally or under the auspices of the WHO.” — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and HHS Sec. Alex Azar, in an op-ed for USA Today. February 11, 2020

Members of the President’s Coronavirus Task Force participate in a discussion with a bipartisan group of governors at the National Governors Association about the importance of cooperation and collaboration between federal, state, and local agencies in responding to the coronavirus. February 9, 2020. (photo: HHS Sec. Alex Azar, Twitter)

The HHS has also provided- in cooperation with private humanitarian organizations like Samaritan’s Purse and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and U.S. companies like Boeing- over 17 tons of vital aid to areas in China that have been badly affected by the fast-spreading virus and are cut-off from supplies.

Scientific cooperation from the international community will be essential to containing this outbreak in our increasingly global community. When a virus like coronavirus threatens the citizens of one country, it threatens all of us.

The heads of U.S. agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Institute of Health answer questions about the coronavirus and efforts to contain the outbreak. February 9, 2020. (photo: HHS Sec. Alex Azar, Twitter)

Secretary Alex Azar and the Department of Health and Human Services have repeatedly assured members of the public that there is very little risk of coronavirus at this time. That doesn’t mean the department tasked public health isn’t taking the outbreak seriously.

Joining the HHS in its efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus is the U.S. State Department, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Homeland Security and even the Department of Transportation.

These organizations and agencies have been working night and day since the outbreak began to keep the risk low on all fronts for those living in the U.S. There has even been inter-cooperation to extract Americans out of Wuhan.

It is clear from this organized and methodical approach that state and local health departments are working closely with federal agencies to follow the playbook for infectious disease response.

According to Mr. Azar of the HHS, these steps are:

Identify, diagnose, isolate, treat, contact trace.

As person to person transmission seems likely, the response has been extensive and aggressive. Measures have included quarantines, screenings, and establishing a chain of transmission to track all cases of the virus.

“As the outbreak of the novel coronavirus reminds us, protecting the health and security of the American people requires constantly investing in biotechnology innovation and partnering with the private sector.”

“The creation of the first Foundry for American Biotechnology in New Hampshire is a milestone achievement in the innovative work that ASPR has done to support Americas’s development and manufacturing of medical countermeasures.” — HHS Secretary Alex Azar

Because of the tireless efforts of U.S. agencies, in both the government and private sector, the U.S. was ready when coronavirus hit and the threat to Americans is minimum.

In a bipartisan cooperation between the U.S. government and private sector companies and agencies, those tasked with safe-guarding public health have risen to the challenge of this latest outbreak.

Together, they are protecting citizens of the world through years of preparedness work.

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)

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