Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar joined Dr. Tom Frieden and Brian Brackeen on the PBS NewsHour to discuss how efforts to contain the global spread of the coronavirus, first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012, have strengthened the U.S. health system.
The virus, which was originally thought to originate in bats, has since spread to three other countries and killed six. A global travel ban was lifted in 2016 and no case of the coronavirus, which causes severe respiratory illness similar to SARS, has been imported into the U.S. in over a year. In its first-ever case of a person contracting the virus in the U.S., Patrick Lauricella, an 87-year-old Nevada resident, died on Sept. 29, 2017 after traveling overseas with members of his family. The Health and Human Services department has agreed to allow clinicians to examine Lauricella’s son and grandchildren, including a 1-year-old girl who contracted the virus in January.
So far, the U.S.’s containment strategy has succeeded in protecting its own citizens and should help America do so in the future, Dr. Frieden said.
“The best thing we can do to prevent anyone being infected with the coronavirus is to recognize it when we see it, to test for it, to control it, and there are a lot of people across this country who are doing a good job of doing all of those things,” he said.