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Klobuchar proposes plan to prevent, address global outbreaks

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., addresses a gathering at Barley's Taproom in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., addresses a gathering at Barley's Taproom in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

CHICAGO, Ill. – Democratic presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar released a plan Thursday to prevent and respond to global outbreaks like the new virus that has sickened people in China and spread to more than a dozen countries, including the U.S.

The World Health Organization has declared a global emergency, saying the number of cases spiked more than tenfold in a week. China, which first informed WHO of cases of the new virus in December, has reported more than 7,800 cases including 170 deaths. Eighteen other countries have reported cases.

Klobuchar said she would invest in early-warning systems to help stop outbreaks before they become pandemics, increase stockpiles of existing vaccines and invest in the development of new vaccines. The Minnesota senator also would recommit the U.S. to the Global Health Security Agenda, an Obama administration initiative to respond to the threat of infectious diseases; work with organizations like WHO to help at-risk countries and regions improve local health services; and fully fund departments and agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren offered her own plan Tuesday, criticizing cuts to the CDC's budget under President Donald Trump, including to emergency funds and programs formed after the 2014 Ebola crisis in West Africa.

In an email, Klobuchar's campaign said the new virus is a “a stark reminder of the persistent threats posed by infectious diseases” and touted the senator's work to secure funding to fight Ebola and address the spread of the Zika virus, which was mainly spread by tropical mosquitoes.

Klobuchar is working to break into the top tier of the Democratic primary with just days before Monday's Iowa caucuses, when voters will have the first say in who should be the party's nominee. She has been trailing Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

Klobuchar's campaign has seen larger crowds and increased enthusiasm in recent weeks, and she has qualified for next week's debate in New Hampshire. But she is also hampered by Senate impeachment hearings, which have kept Klobuchar and other senators in Washington during the crucial final days of campaigning in Iowa.