US Taking Steps to Combat Coronavirus Outbreak

February 25, 2020

As the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 continues to spread across the world, the U.S. government has taken steps to prevent it from sickening more Americans. In a letter dated Monday to Congress from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, the government requested a funding commitment of at least US$2.5 billion to help combat the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, Axios reports. The request for a lump sum account from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) includes $1.25 billion in new funds to fight COVID-19 and $535 million from untouched funds for the Ebola virus.

The funding would support all aspects of the U.S. response including public health preparedness and response efforts, public health surveillance, epidemiology, lab testing, quarantine costs, and research and development of new vaccines and therapies.

This request comes as Wall Street had its worst day in two years after a spike in coronavirus cases in South Korea and Italy. COVID-19 has killed at least 2,699 people and infected more than 80,000 others, mostly in mainland China. But more countries are reporting infections. In the United State, there are at least 35 confirmed cases— 18 from the quarantined cruise ship, three evacuated from China, 12 travel-related, and two person-to-person infections, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

U.S. President Donald Trump has created a task force led by the HHS and made up of infectious disease experts to direct the U.S response. In the meantime, the government has been evacuating American citizens from Wuhan, China—where the virus originated—and has been isolating and screening all citizens coming from Central China as well as those who were on a Japanese cruise ship that was quarantined for coronavirus.