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Senator asks ‘when and how’ US might block travel from China to US

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  • Sen. Josh Hawley asked in a letter on Friday to four cabinet officials for information on “when and how” President Donald Trump’s administration might consider blocking travel from China to the United States. 
  • The request from the Missouri Republican came amid the second reported case of the Wuhan coronavirus in the United States, with one in Washington state and one in Chicago. 
  • The Wuhan virus has already killed 26 people and infected more than 900 around the world. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, sent a letter on Friday to four members of President Donald Trump’s cabinet to ask about “when and how” the federal government might consider blocking travel to the United States from regions in China affected by the Wuhan virus. 

The letter comes the same day as the second confirmed case of the Wuhan virus in the US was reported in Chicago. The coronavirus, dubbed the “Wuhan virus” after the city in China where it’s believed to have spread from, has already killed 26 people and infected over 900 around the globe. 

“I fear more such infections are yet to come,” Hawley said. 

The virus has spread from Wuhan to at least eight other countries, and many parts of China including Beijing, Guangdong province, Tianjin, and Shanghai. 

Hawley asked the secretaries of the Departments of State, Transportation, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services about “when and how the Administration might consider restricting travel to the United States from affected regions of China.” 

Restrictions on travel between two of the world’s largest countries — and economies — could have a large impact on many industries. 

Hawley added that he was concerned about Americans traveling in China possibly getting trapped in Wuhan as China has restricted travel in and out of the city. 

He criticized China for “unsurprisingly” failing to “be fully forthcoming with respect to the details of the spread of this virus. Hawley added that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have “noted glaring omissions in the data reported by the Chinese.” 

The State Department warns Americans from traveling to Hubei province, where Wuhan is located. The US government “has limited ability to provide emergency services” to Americans in Hubei province, the State Department says on its website

The Department of State ordered on Thursday that “all non-emergency US personnel and their family members” evacuate, according to the department’s website. 

The Department of Transportation will respond directly to the senator about his inquiry, an official told Business Insider. 

Hawley asked the secretaries if the federal government has explored how it might assist China in containing the outbreak if restrictions are placed on travel, and requested that the federal government “commit to inform the public” that a decision not to restrict travel was made “in the interests of transparency and appropriate public scrutiny.” 

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