Cotton Calls for Targeted China Travel Ban

Sen. Tom Cotton (Getty Images)
January 28, 2020

Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) on Tuesday called for a targeted travel ban on China to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus to the United States.

"I write to urge you to implement a targeted travel ban on China to protect America from the Wuhan coronavirus," Cotton wrote. "Given the latest developments and the many unknowns about this virus, we ought to follow Benjamin Franklin’s maxim: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Cotton sent the letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, advising them about the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) "long history of covering up and minimizing these crises."

"China’s own actions demonstrate the severity of the threat. Beijing has quarantined more than 50 million people—the combined population of our entire West Coast—and cancelled school indefinitely. Just this morning, Hong Kong has slashed travel from mainland China. These are not the actions of a government in control of the outbreak," Cotton said.

Cotton then laid out steps he believes are critical for the Trump administration to follow to protect Americans, including halting all commercial flights from China to the United States and giving an option to Americans and their immediate families in China to return to the United States under "appropriate, elevated monitoring."

"The administration should develop strict criteria for allowing critical trade to continue, such as cargo flights and seaborne shipping, to minimize the impact to the U.S. economy. The administration should ensure that individuals who do arrive in the U.S. under these criteria can be adequately screened and quarantined as needed," Cotton wrote.

He continued by saying the Trump administration should urge Chinese President Xi Jinping to "allow American and international scientists and medical experts from the World Health Organization into Wuhan immediately to help treat infected persons and research the origins of this coronavirus."

Azar stopped short of declaring a public health emergency early Tuesday morning, but the Trump administration did expand screenings in 20 airports due to the potential lethality of the disease. China has reportedly seen more than 100 deaths out of more than 4,500 cases, according to the Washington Post.

Cotton's letter to the three Trump administration officials is a follow-up to his letter to Azar last week.