A man wears a mask as he takes a photograph in China Town in London on Friday. Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth | AP

Two senators from New England have charged that the shutdown of a government program designed to identify infectious diseases will make it more difficult for the U.S. to help combat coronavirus.

Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine and Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said they sent a letter to the U.S. Agency of International Development asking for information about the agency’s decision to shutter PREDICT. The program was charged with identifying and countering viruses that have the ability to cause public health emergencies.

King and Warren said addressing and preventing the spread of disease outbreaks such as coronavirus “is a serious matter that requires adequate resources for and cooperation between experts throughout the federal government.”

King said USAID informed him earlier that it plans to create a new project to succeed PREDICT. However, PREDICT is scheduled to close in March and the agency hasn’t provided more details, he said.