After failed efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 by limiting arrivals of foreign citizens, the White House is now considering a plan to temporarily bar potentially infected American citizens and legal residents, according to a draft regulation seen by the New York Times. Federal agencies have been asked to give the administration input on the plan, which would give border agents the power to ban citizens if the agent "reasonably believes that the individual either may have been exposed to or is infected with the communicable disease." It doesn't state how long the citizen or legal resident might have to remain outside the country.
The plan will rely on the CDC's current legal authorities, according to the Times. Sources tell the Washington Post the move could be introduced as part of an emergency public health declaration, though experts note that it is likely to have limited effect since the US already has the most confirmed coronavirus cases in the world, with community spread occurring in many areas. The plan would apply to all arrival points in the US, including airports and the border with Canada, though the BBC reports the Trump administration is apparently focusing on the border with Mexico, where the outbreak continues to worsen. (Read more coronavirus stories.)