White House seeks $2.5 billion to fight COVID-19
The White House is seeking $2.5 billion in total resources to fight COVID-19 in the United States, including more than $500 million in funding that was previously allocated for the U.S. Ebola virus response.
In a letter to Congress from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the administration asked for $1.25 billion in emergency funding for HHS “to continue supporting critical response and preparedness activities,” and requested permission to use $525 million in funding previously appropriated at HHS for the Ebola response. The letter was obtained and published by The New York Times. In it, the OMB said the administration expected to allocate $2.5 billion in total resources for the response.
The funding requests came in the wake of President Trump’s proposed 2021 budget, which was criticized for including reductions in HHS and CDC funding.
There are currently 54 patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., including 40 who have been repatriated from overseas. More than 77,000 cases have been reported in China, and the virus has spread to dozens of other countries.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accused President Trump of “seeking to ransack funds still needed to keep Ebola in check” and said Democrats would advance their own spending package to contain the outbreak.
“Americans need a coordinated, fully funded, whole-of-government response to keep them and their loved ones safe,” Pelosi tweeted. “The President’s request for coronavirus response funding is long overdue and completely inadequate to the scale of this emergency.”
Previous White House requests for outbreak-related emergency funding included $6.18 billion for Ebola in 2014 and $1.9 billion for Zika in 2016.
WHO has launched a $675 million preparedness plan in response to the outbreak, with the majority of funds expected to be allocated toward countries at high risk for spread of COVID-19.
“I continue to hope that, in the end, we look back and feel like we were overprepared,” Nancy Messonnier, MD, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during a press briefing today. “That is a better place to be in than being underprepared, and the preparedness for pandemic influenza provides a strong foundation for this response. Any preparedness that we do as a country — at schools, businesses and within our families — will always be helpful for whatever the next event is.” – by Eamon Dreisbach
New York Times. White house asks congress for billions to fight coronavirus. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/24/us/politics/trump-coronavirus-response.html. Accessed February 25, 2020.
Obama White House Archives. FACT SHEET: Emergency funding request to enhance the U.S. Government’s Response to Ebola at home and abroad. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2014/11/05/fact-sheet-emergency-funding-request-enhance-us-government-s-response-eb. Accessed February 25, 2020.
WHO. WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 24 February 2020. https://www.who.int/dg/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-opening-remarks-at-the-media-briefing-on-covid-19---24-february-2020. Accessed February 25, 2020.