Cicilline Calls on CDC to Notify States of Travelers Returning from Coronavirus Infected Countries

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

WASHINGTON – Democratic Policy and Communications Committee Chair David N. Cicilline (RI-01) called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today to expand its notification process for states to include all travelers returning from countries with significant or elevated reports of cases of coronavirus. Under current protocols, states are only notified when travelers are returning from China, where coronavirus originated. As seen in Rhode Island, the current process fails to identify travelers who could have been exposed to the virus with high numbers of cases, including Italy.


The letter can be accessed by clicking here and is embedded below:





March 3, 2020


The Honorable Robert R. Redfield, MD


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

1600 Clifton Road

Atlanta, GA 30329


Dear Director Redfield:


I write to ask that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention revise its protocols for notifying states with regard to travelers returning to the United States from countries with reported cases of coronavirus (COVID-19). Currently, states are only notified and provided with lists of travelers returning from China, where COVID-19 originated. COVID-19 has now spread to 58 countries and it will likely continue to appear in more countries in the weeks and months ahead. Given the seriousness and rapid pace of this outbreak, I strongly urge the CDC to provide notifications to state agencies when travelers arrive in the U.S. from other countries with significant or elevated reports of incidents of COVID-19.


On Sunday, the Rhode Island Department of Health announced that two “presumptive positive” cases of COVID-19 had been detected in the state, and that a third individual was being tested. It was reported that all three of these individuals had returned to Rhode Island from school field trip to Italy. As a result, two school campuses were forced to shut down for extensive cleaning to protect against the virus spreading. Dozens of Rhode Islanders are now being monitored.


Transparency during this time is critical to ensuring that Americans have access to accurate and timely information needed to prevent contamination and to seek treatment when appropriate. We have seen that inaccurate reporting can lead to confusion and panic surrounding this epidemic. It is critical that Americans be reassured that federal and state governments are closely monitoring the spread of this virus. The CDC recently announced that it would stop publishing the number of coronavirus test cases on their website, which could lead to discrepancies in reporting and greater confusion.


As COVID-19 continues to spread, it is imperative that federal and state agencies coordinate their activities to reduce the threat and impact of this dangerous virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should take immediate steps to ensure states are more thoroughly notified and informed of possible risks to the population.


Thank you for your time and attention on this critical matter.





David N. Cicilline

Member of Congress






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