WASHINGTON—Financial support is what is most needed by local governments to fight coronavirus Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike told the House Committee on Homeland Security on Wednesday.
Ezike said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been helpful in responding to the coronavirus cases in Chicago, but the city has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to run diagnosis machines and provide housing for infected patients. Chicago health officials are also testing those who are asymptomatic and are requesting that the CDC provides more supplies to do this because the Illinois state government cannot sustain this for an extended period of time.
“Emergency supplemental funding is necessary,” Ezike said. “Illinois encourages Congress to appropriate funds and to reimburse Illinois and other states for the costs associated with this aggressive response.”
Last week, President Donald Trump said he is standing by his administration’s request for $2.5 billion of emergency funding to fight coronavirus despite experts saying more money is needed.
Along with funding needed to create isolation sites to contain the spread of the virus, Ezike also called for the federal government to provide financial assistance to patients who cannot afford to miss work to be quarantined. She said people skip their annual checkups due to high bills and knows that people will do the same when it comes to getting tested for coronavirus.
Ezike said ensuring people will be still be able to paytheir bills while undergoing treatment is vital in stopping the speed at which the virus spreads.
20 of the 119 Americans diagnosed with coronavirus contacted the virus through community interactions, not travel, and has caused some public hysteria. Ranking Member Mike Rogers, R-Ala., said it’s important for political leaders to keep the public at ease and that there needs to be a central resource for people to get informed.
When it comes to informing the public on coronavirus, there cannot be enough communication former CDC director Julie Louise Gerberding said on Tuesday.
Gerberding said there needs to be credible leadership at every level of government. While there is still much that officials do not know as the outbreak is in its early phases, she said there needs to be transparency between the federal government and the public.
“People don’t panic when they’re given straight forward information. They panic when they hear confusing and conflicting information and then they don’t know who to trust or who to believe,” Gerberding told the committee.
As the director during several other disease outbreaks, Gerberding said the U.S. does a good job at responding to crises but should not have to do it in panic mode which is happening now.
Even though the U.S. has dealt with other coronaviruses like SARS and MERS, there is not vaccine or clinical treatment for those. She said if the U.S. were to follow through with treatment research after the virus is no longer a threat, the clinical trials for a vaccine would not take as long as they are now.
“What concerns me about our current outlook is that we’re seeing some overpromising and we need not to alarm people when those promises don’t come into fruition at the timeline people are expecting,” Gerberding said.