Over 9,000 Americans in 28 countries have been brought back to the U.S. by State Department efforts as of Tuesday amid the coronavirus outbreak that has halted travel around the world.
The State Department announced in a statement that “thousands more” U.S. citizens will be returning in the coming days as the agency races to mobilize commercial and private charter planes as well as military aircraft around the world to repatriate stranded Americans.
“The Department has never before undertaken an evacuation operation of such geographic breadth, scale, and complexity,” spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said.
“We are using all the tools at our disposal to overcome logistical and diplomatic challenges and bring Americans home from hard-to-reach areas and cities hardest-hit by the virus.”
The announcement comes amid calls from lawmakers to use “extraordinary measures” to bring U.S. citizens home as the global airline industry shut down in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
On Monday, a senior State Department official told reporters that about 16 flights are scheduled this week to relieve roughly 1,600 people “with room for more.”
The agency has estimated that at least 13,500 Americans need assistance returning home from dozens of countries around the world.
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