President Trump has created a new task force to lead the government's response to the fast-spreading coronavirus, the White House announced Wednesday.
Led by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and coordinated through the National Security Council, the task force is made up of subject matter experts from across the federal government and has been meeting daily since Monday.
Members of the 12-member group include National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield, and the National Institutes of Health's Dr. Anthony Fauci.
"The task force will lead the administration's efforts to monitor, contain and mitigate the spread of the virus, while ensuring that the American people have the most accurate and up-to-date health and travel information," the White House said.
The coronavirus has killed more than 170 people in China, though thousands more have been infected. While the outbreak started in Wuhan, China, 68 cases have been confirmed in other 15 countries, including the United States, according to the World Health Organization. The Centers for Disease Control said as of Wednesday, five patients in four states had tested positive, though specimens from 36 states were being tested.
Mr. Trump, who considers himself a germaphobe, addressed the coronavirus outbreak Wednesday during a signing ceremony for the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
"We're very much involved with them right now on the virus that's going around," the president said of China, adding that he had spoken with Chinese President Xi Jinping about it.
Later in the day, Mr. Trump said in a tweet that he attended a briefing on the coronavirus and lauded the U.S. experts monitoring the outbreak.
"Just received a briefing on the Coronavirus in China from all of our GREAT agencies, who are also working closely with China," he said. "We will continue to monitor the ongoing developments. We have the best experts anywhere in the world, and they are on top of it 24/7!"