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By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 08 March 2020

Seattle - Mayor Jenny A. Durkan has commended the successful vote in Congress to approve funding for public health efforts to address COVID-19 in addition to the State’s passage of emergency funding.

The federal government has allocated $8.3 Billion in public health funding to tackle the coronavirus COVID-19 while the Washington Legislature has committed  $100 million in emergency funds. Mayor Durkan said:

“It's critical for cities like Seattle to have resources for the emerging COVID-19 public health crisis, she says.

"I also want to thank Governor Inslee and the State legislature for approving $100 million in emergency funding. These developments from our state legislature and congress will go a long way in ensuring we’re fully prepared as the situation continues to evolve.

“Among the key elements is funding to help test, track, and implement mitigation strategies. While I am grateful to hear that the University of Washington Virology Lab announced their plans to ramp up capacity to test for COVID-19, I know they cannot do it alone and that the federal government and state must continue to ramp up resources in the state and across the country to increase the testing capacity.

“This bill also directs more than $1 billion toward small business relief to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on our community. This funding will be critical, and I will work with our Congressional delegation to ensure these funds are released as quickly as possible to stabilize our small businesses who are already skating on razor-thin margins.

“The City of Seattle has been preparing to respond to COVD-19 since we all learned of the first global confirmed case in January, but we know that our local resources alone will not be enough to slow the spread of COVID-19. Especially as we provide new resources for our most vulnerable population, we will need to support of the state and federal government to meet this public health emergency.”

 Early last month, Mayor Durkan with other mayors sent a letter to the federal government expressing concern about inadequate resources to properly respond to COVID-19 in local communities.

Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley, as the top Democrat on the Appropriations subcommittee that funds the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), worked with his counterparts to write Title I of the bill, including emergency authorizations and $61 million in new funding for FDA to help protect Americans from this emerging public health threat.

Now the legislation will provide $8.3 billion in all new funding for a robust response to this public health emergency. This includes $950 million for state and local health agencies to conduct vital public health activities, including surveillance, laboratory testing, infection control, contact tracing, and mitigation.

Among its provisions, the emergency supplemental includes:

  • More than $3 billion for research and development of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics
  • $2.2 billion in public health funding for prevention, preparedness, and response
  • $950 million of which is to support state & local health agencies
  • Nearly $1 billion for procurement of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, to support healthcare preparedness and Community Health Centers, and to improve medical surge capacity
  • $435 million to support health systems overseas to prevent, prepare, and respond to the coronavirus
  • $300 million to respond to humanitarian needs
  • $61 million to facilitate the development and review of medical countermeasures, devices, therapies, and vaccines, and to help mitigate potential supply chain interruptions
  • Allows for an estimated $7 billion in low-interest loans to affected small businesses

The emergency supplemental also contains other strong provisions to ensure a full response and keep Americans safe.

The bill:

  • Requires that funds are only used to fight the coronavirus and other infectious diseases
  • Allows seniors to access telemedicine services for coronavirus treatment
  • Helps ensure that vaccines and treatments for coronavirus are affordable
  • Ensures that state and local governments are reimbursed for costs incurred while assisting the federal response

Additionally, the bill includes a requirement to reimburse $136 million to important health accounts, including mental health and substance abuse treatment and prevention and heating and cooling assistance for low-income families, that was transferred by the Trump administration to support its response.

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