: Europe poses a bigger coronavirus risk to the U.S. than China, CDC chief says

“Europe is the new China. There’s a lot of people coming back and forth from Europe,” Redfield said in a hearing to discuss the agency’s annual budget. The CDC has recommended that older Americans with health conditions limit their travel for the time being.

The novel coronavirus has especially pummeled Italy, a country to which many Americans travel each year. The country has quarantined tens of millions of people in the northern part of the country. The number of cases is also growing in France and Germany.

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The World Health Organizations latest daily report showed that 3,993 new cases were reported overnight, but only 45 were in China.

Some 1,492 cases were reported in Italy, 743 in Iran, 410 in France, 317 in Germany, 248 in South Korea and 159 in Spain.

New cases in the U.S. were listed at 213, but that’s probably too low given the paucity of testing so far. Only about 5,000 people have been tested, compared to tens of thousands in other countries.

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The Atlanta-based CDC has been heavily criticized for being too slow to come up with its own test and produce them in sufficient numbers. Redfield said the problem is being rectified and millions of tests will be available this week. Almost anyone who wants to be tested, he said, can be tested soon if their physician deems it necessary.

See:CDC’s new coronavirus summary of cases in the U.S.

Repeatedly asked about the delays in testing, Redfield blamed diagnostic errors and the process for getting regulation approval. The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for approving new treatments.

At the same time, Redfield called for more funding for federal, state and local health laboratories to deal with similar threats in the future. He asserted that public health labs are underfunded, lacking the people and equipment to rapidly produce tests on a mass scale.

“These public health labs need redundancy. We don’t have it,” he said.

Redfield also urged the creation of regional CDC centers to help detect the outbreak of new infectious diseases and intervene more quickly before they spread.

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The Trump administration’s budget has repeatedly called for CDC budget cuts, but Congress has increased spending each year.

“I’m sure we won’t be cutting the CDC’s budget anytime soon,” said Tom Cole, the top Republican on the House Appropriations panel that has jurisdiction over the agency.

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