A senior administration official is denying a report that the White House has asked US airlines to suspend flights between the US and China as a way to help contain the spread the deadly coronavirus.
“The White House did not call the airlines and hasn’t asked for a suspension of flights between the US and China,” the official said.
A White House aide said that at a Monday session looking at ways to contain the spread of the virus, the notion of travel restrictions to China was raised. And on Tuesday, Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar declined to rule out such a possibility, saying nothing was off the table.
Azar also told reporters that he and Trump were "speaking regularly" about the coronavirus outbreak, which has infected close to 6,000 people in China and that he was in daily contact with White House officials.
"The President is highly engaged in this response and closely monitoring the work we're doing to keep Americans safe," Azar said.
A White House source described the attitude toward coronavirus as a "sense of urgency, not panic." Inside the White House, the government's cross-agency response is being coordinated by the National Security Council, with Matt Pottinger, the deputy national security adviser, leading near daily meetings, according to administration officials.
"The full weight of the US government is working on this," a senior administration official said on Tuesday. "As with any interagency effort of this scale, the National Security Council works closely with the whole of government to ensure a coordinated and unified effort."